National charity Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) are encouraging the public to Be MeningitisWise during Meningitis Awareness Week – 17-23 September and to be aware of the symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia.

MRF says that the diseases affect around 3,600 people in the UK and Ireland annually. They are deadly diseases that can strike anyone without warning, killing one in ten, and leaving a quarter of survivors with life altering after-effects ranging from deafness and brain damage to loss of limbs.

We explored the impact of the diseases in our project ‘Counting the Cost of Meningitis’ and estimate that the life-long costs to the UK Government of medical treatment and ongoing care for a person seriously disabled by the disease are around £3 million. As a result the charity launched a petition last year calling on the UK Government to pursue the widest and earliest implementation of vaccines to prevent all types of meningitis and septicaemia.

Christopher Head, Chief Executive of MRF said: “There is currently no vaccine for meningococcal B disease which is responsible for the majority of cases of disease in the UK and Ireland. Nearly 18,000 signed our petition and this week it has been presented to 10 Downing Street, so thank you to everyone who supported us. However, we must remember that vaccines do not prevent all strains of meningitis and septicaemia yet, so it’s vitally important that everyone is MeningitisWise and remains aware of the symptoms.”

To find out more about the symptoms visit their website www.meningitis.org or download the iPhone App from: www.bit.ly/MRFapp