A South Tyneside mother whose baby was left with life changing side effects of the killer Meningitis B virus is urging all parents to be aware of the signs and symptoms.
Izabelle Grace Bailey was diagnosed with Meningitis B and septicaemia in April 2016 – only days before her first birthday
Although baby Izabelle has fully recovered, she has been left with several after-effects such as glue ear, now relying on grommets.
Izzy’s mum, Bethany Brunton, 18, said: “If anyone suspects that their child has meningitis I would advise them to go straight to a hospital for blood tests.
“The child doesn’t need to have a rash, it could be sickness or a high temperature too, or even tiredness or floppiness. Not every rash stays with the glass test, Izabelle’s didn’t.”
According to the NHS, the main symptoms of the virus include a fever, cold hands and feet, vomiting and irritability.
Miss Brunton added: “It has impacted the family massively. We constantly have to keep an eye on her.
“I hate taking her to things like play groups as I’m always panicking in case another child has an infection that could be passed onto Izzy as she now has very low immunity. It just becomes very stressful.”
According to Bethany, Izzy is now prone to the infection and must receive regular Meningitis B vaccines.
Bethany is now advising all parents to get their babies immunised against Meningitis B which was only provided to those born before March 1 2015, meaning Izabelle only missed out on receiving the vaccine by 13 days.
Meningitis Now, the UK’s largest meningitis charity, are currently fighting for all children up to the age of 5 to receive the Men B vaccine, providing support and raising awareness for the cause.
The charity also supported a petition which demanded that the vaccine be made available to a wider number of children, but was ignored by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
A spokesperson for the charity said: “It does seem incredible to us that Government can ignore the wishes of the 823,000 who signed the petition earlier this year calling for the vaccine’s use to be extended.”
“It’s a disease which can kill in hours, so knowledge of the symptoms, vigilance and quick action are all vital.”
Liz Brown, Meningitis Now Chief Executive, said: “Babies and children under 5 are most at risk of meningitis, with over half of all cases occurring in this age group.
“But the disease can affect anyone, of any age, at any time. Even those who consider themselves ‘fit and healthy’ may be left fighting for their life in a matter of hours.”
Each year there are about 3,200 cases of bacterial meningitis in the UK, leaving 10 per cent of sufferers dead and a third of those who survive with after-effects such as brain damage, loss of hearing and sight, and loss of limbs and scarring¸ where septicaemia has occurred
Bethany said: “I don’t think meningitis can be totally avoided but the best bet is to keep things as clean as possible and to be aware of germs. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
For further help and support on the issue, go to https://www.meningitisnow.org/ or contact Meningitis Now on their helpline number- 0808 80 10 388