Family warns of meningitis

Ruben contracted pneumococcal meningitis in June 2012.
Ruben contracted pneumococcal meningitis in June 2012.

A family from Staverton has warned others to look out for the symptoms of meningitis.

Tom Jeffries’ son Ruben contracted pneumococcal meningitis in June 2012 when he was 19 months old, despite being vaccinated. He is now sharing his experiences as a warning on the eve of Meningitis Awareness Week, running from Monday to Saturday September 21.

He said: “Following stabilisation and sedation at Coventry A&E, he was transferred to hospital in Leicester where he spent five days in intensive care, on life support, and then three weeks on a high dependency ward.

“Thankfully, with assistance, he has physically recovered and is now a very happy three-year-old toddler.

“Only time will tell if there are other issues we have to contend with. We are acutely aware we were lucky and our situation could have been so much different, and sadly is for other families.”

International charity Meningitis Research Foundation estimates that meningitis and septicaemia affect approximately nine people in the UK and Ireland every day.

It kills one in 10 and leaves a quarter of survivors with life altering after effects ranging from deafness, brain damage and a loss of limbs.

Children under five and students are most at risk, but the diseases can strike at any age and not all forms are currently covered by vaccines.

Christopher Head, the chief executive of Meningitis Research Foundation said: “We’re very grateful to Tom for supporting Meningitis Awareness Week. Meningitis and septicaemia are diseases you never expect to happen but their personal experience really brings home how devastating these diseases can be and why it’s so important to be aware of the symptoms and be prepared to act fast when loved ones, family and friends fall sick.”

The foundation has warned people to look out for symptoms including fever/vomiting, a severe headache, a rash anywhere on the body, a stiff neck, a dislike of bright lights and seizures.

Further information about the symptoms to look out for and the illness generally can be found by visiting www.meningitis.org.