Flu virus or meningitis - would you know the difference?

ACT for Meningitis, the Irish charity for meningitis awareness and support is issuing a warning as winter time is upon us.

There is a higher risk of meningitis during the winter months. As people spend a lot more time indoors and with close contact, germs spread more easily. Also, coming down with a ‘cold’ or the ‘flu’ may weaken the immune system making you more susceptible to the disease.

“The symptoms may be difficult to spot at first as many of the early symptoms can be similar to those of a flu ,they may appear in any order or some may not appear at all. So we ask people to TRUST THEIR INSTINCTS and if they suspect meningitis , seek medical help immediately,” Siobhan Carroll of ACT for Meningitis, said.

The signs of meningitis can include vomiting, fever, headache, stiff neck, dislike to bright lights, severe muscle pain, confusion. In babies being irritable, refusing to feed, high pitched crying, rapid breathing and cold hands and feet, bulging soft spot on the head. Children up to age five are the most at risk age group, 16-24 years are the second highest at-risk age, but anyone of any age can get meningitis.

Meningitis does NOT always produce a rash. If it does appear it will not fade under pressure. Someone with meningitis or septicaemia can get a lot worse very quickly so keep checking on them.

This is also a good time to ensure your child’s vaccination programme is up to date, if in doubt, clarify with your general practitioner.


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