#Meningitis Forum - A Quick Catch-Up

I am known for being early for almost every single appointment in my life.  I hate tardiness.  However, turning up a full DAY early is a bit OTT.  This almost happened this week but I was saved by the power of Twitter:

That would have been interesting, wouldn't it?

Anyway - onto the important bit.  I was proud to be invited to be part of a parents forum related to our perception and understanding of meningitis.  I was amazed by how little I knew about meningitis in general, the symptoms, the vaccinations available.  My head is buzzing with all the information we have been given so I am going to read through all the information that we were provided, digest it and put together an informative blog post.

In that blog post I will be providing the opportunity for YOU to ask any questions that you have about meningitis, your understanding of the the disease, the vaccines available and anything else you can think of.  I will be inviting members of Novartis - the world's leading pharmaceutical company - and the three meningitis organisations in the UK (more information about them below) over to the blog to answer these questions.  I don't want you to hold back as we all need this information as meningitis is THE biggest killer of children from infectious diseases.

Some important facts I found out today are:
  • There are three types of meningitis - Viral (most common), Bacterial (the worst - the one you read about in the media) and Fungal (not common).
  • "The Rash" is a late symptom.  DO NOT wait for the rash if you suspect meningitis.
  • DO NOT underestimate the speed of the disease.  Meningococcal disease can kill within 24 hours of appearing.
  • The highest risk categories are infants, adolescents, travelers/military and Hajj Pilgrims.

The people that we connected with today were:
  • Dr Rob Hicks - @DrRobHicks 
  • Meningitis UK - @MeningitisUK - who focus entirely on vaccine research to prevent all forms of meningitis 
  • Meningitis Trust - @MeningitisTrust - who reach and improve the lives of everyone affected by meningitis and minimise the impace of the disease 
  • Meningitis Research - @M_R_F - who fund research, undertake awareness and provide support
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Quote from Emily Carlisle, who blogs at "More Than Just A Mother" : "The support that @M_R_F gave us was invaluable.  They gave us information we desperately needed about meningitis and provided a listening ear in the dark time between his [her son] diagnosis and his death, and in the weeks which followed.
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In between now and the next meningitis related blog post, please can I ask you to take action and sign this petition supporting the introduction of vaccination against meningitis and septicemia.  If you would prefer to wait until more information is available then I totally respect your decision.

And finally, for today only, if you were following the #meningitis hashtag stream on twitter today THIS is the impact that was made by 20 or so people sat in a meeting room in Birmingham:

(click the image for real time stats)