Meningitis Awareness Day 2009

Today’s guest post comes from Ger Mills of the Meningitis Trust – one of the PuddleDucks designated charities. Ger is highlighting the first ever Worldwide Meningitis Awareness Day on April 25th. Over to you Ger … 

As a parent, I worry every time either of my two children gets sick. Is it just a bug that will pass in a day or two, or something more serious? And when they have a temperature, or get a rash or have a pain in their head, a terrible thought comes to me – it could be meningitis.

So two years ago, when I was given the opportunity to work with the Meningitis Trust, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, or what use I would be. I soon realised just how little I really knew about the disease that had occupied my thoughts on so many occasions. But I also discovered that I wasn’t alone and that there was a huge task ahead to raise awareness and provide information that could lessen the toll of suffering caused by this terrible disease.

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So, with the first ever Worldwide Meningitis Awareness Day on 25th April just a few days away, I am very grateful for this opportunity from Suzanne and all in PuddleDucks for the chance to share a few of my thoughts.

The Meningitis Trust is Ireland’s national meningitis support organisation, which offers a range of free services to anyone who is worried or affected by meningitis. We get no statutory government funding and have very limited resources, so it’s maybe not surprising that just 25% of people in Ireland even know the Trust exists. So please help me to spread the word!

Meningitis affects communities in every corner of Ireland. This year, another 300 families will suddenly be faced with the reality of bacterial meningitis. Up to 1 in 10 patients will die, with another 15% left with mild-to severe after-effects including deafness, behavioural problems and epilepsy. And hundreds of other families will will be affected by viral meningitis.

Early diagnosis and appropriate medical intervention CAN save lives. The more people know about the symptoms and how important it is to trust your instincts, the better. And raising awareness about the Meningitis Trust Helpline, which is available 24 hours a day, 365 days is important too. As a parent, I’ve personally found it a great source of support.

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 If you’d like to find out more about meningitis, or take part in the first ever Worldwide Meningitis Awareness Day on Saturday 25th April, log on to our website. The theme is “Join hands across the world against meningitis” and you can join hands on-line with people from all over the world. The website also has lots of information about the Trust’s counselling, one-to-one and home visit services, and education and awareness programmes. You can download a potentially life-saving ‘Signs and Symptoms’ card. I keep mine in my purse – just in case. You never know when you might need it.

Many thanks for the post, Ger. I really hope that the Worldwide Meningitis Awareness Day on the 25th is a great success. At PuddleDucks we also include the Meningitis Signs and Symptoms card with all  PuddleDucks orders. We hope this helps raise the awareness of meningitis in our small way.

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