A local man has enlisted a 100-strong team of family, friends and colleagues to take part in this year’s Galway marathon in aid of the Meningitis Trust.
Noel Carroll, who lives in Oranmore with his wife Siobhan and their three children, is participating in the event - which takes place on Sunday August 29 - in memory of their four-year-old daughter Aoibhe who died suddenly from meningitis in April 2008.
He hopes to raise €8,000 on the day and create greater awareness about this life-threatening condition which affects the membranes that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis and its associated disease, septicaemia (blood poisoning ), can kill within hours and can affect anyone at any time. Those most at risk are children under five, teenagers, young adults and people over 55 years.
Noel, who works with An Post and is originally from Mervue, persuaded about 70 people from the company, in addition to family and friends, to take part in the marathon.
He is appealing to the public to support his efforts through sponsorship or donations to the meningitis charity.
“Every ‘signs and symptoms’ card costs the Trust just a few cents but could save a life,” says Geraldine Mills, development officer with the Meningitis Trust. “So every little bit of sponsorship for the race will make a difference. Noel has persuaded a big number of his An Post colleagues to take part with him in this year’s Galway Marathon - some in the marathon, some in the relay - but all in the aid of the Meningitis Trust. We will be helping in any way we can, distributing sponsor cards for him, and also giving out free and potentially life-saving ‘Signs and Symptoms’ cards.
“In essence, Noel is asking the people of Galway and indeed further afield to support his efforts and sponsor his run. They can contact him directly at (085 ) 1456351 or email [email protected] or they can also lodge directly to the Meningitis Trust account at Bank of Ireland, Donnybrook, Dublin 4. Sort code:90 10 87 Account 74633302.”
The most common causes of meningitis are viruses and bacteria, according to the Meningitis Trust.
“These germs usually live harmlessly at the back of the throat. Most of us will carry them at some stage in our lives without becoming ill and they help us build up natural immunity. Occasionally these germs get past the body’s defences and cause infection. They are passed from person to person through coughing and sneezing but they will rarely cause disease.”
There are two types of meningitis, viral and bacterial. Viral is rarely life threatening although it can make people very unwell. Most people make a full recovery but sufferers can be left with after-effects of headaches, tiredness and memory loss.
Bacterial meningitis can be life threatening and needs urgent medical attention. Most people who contract bacterial meningitis recover but many suffer from a variety of after effects and one in 10 will die.
Meningitis kills more children under five in Ireland than any other infectious disease. There are about 300 cases of bacterial meningitis in Ireland each year and twice that number of viral meningitis. However, experts estimate that this is only “half of the true picture”. There is no vaccine to protect against meningococcal group B, the most common bacterial cause of the disease in Ireland.
The Meningitis Trust says it is vital that people know how to detect the signs and symptoms of the disease because medical help should be sought immediately. Common signs and symptoms include fever (cold hands and feet ), joint or muscle pain, vomiting, headache, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights, drowsiness, confusion, and also, in babies, dislike of being handled, pale blotchy skin, high-pitched cry, and a blank staring expression. Both adults and children may have a rash (septicaemia ) that does not disappear under pressure. Symptoms may appear in any order and some may not appear at all.
The Meningitis Trust is a national charity which provides the largest range of professional services and community based support for people affected by meningitis in Ireland. It provides support through the following free services:
- A 24-hour nurse-staffed helpline offering information and support 1800 523 196
- Home visits
- Professional counselling and bereavement support.
- Peer support
It does not receive any statutory funding for its work and depends almost entirely on the generous support of organisations and the public to fund its extensive support services, awareness campaigns and education programmes.
It produces and distributes free credit card sized symptoms cards for people to keep in their wallets and purses. These can be requested by telephoning (01 ) 2764269
or logging onto www.meningitis-trust.ie