It is World Meningitis Day with parents being warned to look for early signs in their children.
A rash as well as cold hands and feet can be indicators.
According to a new survey conducted by GSK, 44% of Irish parents think a distinctive rash is the first symptom of meningitis, despite the fact it often appears after other symptoms, or not at all.
To mark World Meningitis Day, GSK has announced the launch of the Tackle Meningitis campaign in partnership with Irish Rugby captain Rory Best and former England Rugby player, Matt Dawson whose son previously contracted the disease.
ICYMI: @matt9dawson and @RoryBest2 came into studio to #tacklemeningitis #bknthttps://t.co/oOqonCkEGp pic.twitter.com/5UoJY82doM— Newstalk Breakfast (@NTBreakfast) April 24, 2017
The initiative is aimed at raising awareness of meningitis, which is a rare but potentially fatal disease. The campaign is backed by Irish charities, Meningitis Research Foundation and ACT for Meningitis.
Rory said, “As a parent myself, you always fear meningitis and when I heard what happened to Matt’s son, I realised that I myself was perhaps not as informed as I could be around this disease. It was important to me to stand beside Matt and help him educate people around meningitis”.
Matt said: “I wish I had known more about meningitis and what to look out for. People only think of the glass test, but there are other lesser known symptoms that it’s very important to be aware of. In truth, I was fairly ignorant about how dangerous it can be, but thankfully we turned out to be incredibly lucky.
"With this disease, even a matter of minutes can make a huge difference to the outcome. I feel passionate about standing behind a campaign which uses the power and influence of sport and its ability to reach people of all ages.”
Caroline Krieger, Medical Information Officer with the Meningitis Research Foundation, said: “Meningitis is a devastating disease that can kill or cause disability in a matter of hours. Amongst those most at risk are babies, children and young people, but anyone can be affected. Knowing the signs, symptoms and steps to take is crucial in order to act fast and improve outcomes.
"The narrow-time window for diagnosis of meningitis and the absence of effective vaccines for all strains of the disease means that it is essential for parents, carers and health professionals to be aware of the signs and symptoms of the disease. Our hope is that campaigns like Tackle Meningitis will help to ensure that all parents are aware of meningitis and septicaemia and know when to seek medical help.”
Siobhan Carroll, CEO of ACT for Meningitis commented: “We welcome GSK’s efforts to create greater awareness around meningitis and applaud Matt Dawson’s courage in using his experience of the disease to help save lives.
"We know how important the awareness message is, having distributed over 200,000 free signs and symptoms cards to date which provided clear and accurate information for more people than ever before. As parents like Matt Dawson have found, the early symptoms of the disease can be overlooked. In some cases, may have devastating consequences.
"We are particularly excited to see how ‘Tackle Meningitis’ utilises sport to reach those who still don’t know about the disease.”