It is vital to be informed on the symptoms of meningitis

Boxer Regan Buckley has pledged to donate 20% of his earnings to the Meningitis Research Foundation.
It is vital to be informed on the symptoms of meningitis

IRELAND’S youngest professional boxer, whose debut fight is in Dublin’s National Stadium tomorrow, has joined the fight against meningitis.

Co Wicklow fighter Regan Buckley, 20, a coach at St Teresa’s Boxing Club, Bray, is a two-time Irish champion and was runner-up at the most recent Senior Elite Championships.

He has pledged to donate 20% of his professional boxer earnings to Meningitis Research Foundation.

His decision was prompted by the death from meningitis in 2015 of his fellow club member Keelan O’Connor.

“I knew Keelan well. He was a quiet, well-mannered lad. He was playing football on Saturday. By Monday he’d passed away.”

The young teen’s death devastated the club.

“I’d heard of meningitis. I didn’t know it could kill. Now I know it’s real serious. If somebody had symptoms, I’d say straightaway go to hospital. In the click of a finger things can go downhill.”

Meningitis Research Foundation medical information officer Caroline Krieger says there are over three times as many cases of the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in January compared with September.

Meningitis-causing bacteria most commonly live harmlessly in the nose or throats of adolescents. One in four teens carry the bacteria at any time against one in 10 of the general population. These bacteria can be spread through social contact.

Most are immune to the bacteria. It results in illness in a small number of people. More sobering are statistics showing one in 10 who get the disease will die.

One in three will have life-changing after- effects. Under-fives and students are most at risk. However, meningitis can strike at any age. Parental instincts are vital in recognising meningitis and septicaemia (the blood poisoning form of the disease).

“You know your child best and can spot differences in behaviour. Children with meningitis/ septicaemia usually get ill quickly and worsen fast. Check them often, including during night,” says Krieger.

About 200 cases of bacterial meningitis/ septicaemia occur annually in Ireland. Easily mistaken for milder illnesses, it can kill within hours. Babies born on/after October 1, 2016, are routinely vaccinated against meningococcal B. No catch-up exists for older children.

* Donate €2 by texting MenB to 50300. Texts cost €2. 

Meningitis Research Foundation receives €1.63 minimum.

Helpline: 1800 413344.

Watch for

  • First symptoms of meningitis/septicaemia: usually fever, vomiting, severe headache, general unwellness. Fever’s often absent in babies under three months.
  • More unique meningitis symptoms: neck stiffness, bright lights aversion, confusion, seizures.
  • Septicaemia may feature stomach/joint/muscle pain, rapid/unusual breathing, pale skin, cold hands/feet.
  • Rash anywhere on the body (often very late sign of disease) doesn’t always appear.

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