This week is Meningitis Awareness Week. Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF), which Clarke Willmott LLP are proud to support, has been providing assistance and advice to individuals and families affected by this disease for more than 25 years, as well as funding vital research in this area.
Meningitis is a devastating disease which kills one in ten and for those who survive, they can be left with permanent and profound disability ranging from deafness to brain damage and loss of limbs.
Meningitis is the inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord. It can be either viral or bacterial. Viral meningitis is rarely life threatening but bacterial meningitis can be and this can cause meningitis, septicaemia or both.
Some strains of the disease have vaccines available and as has been seen this year, the UK has now introduced a programme for a further vaccine.
As from 1 September 2015, the Government has introduced a programme of immunisation for all babies born after 1 July 2015 to receive the Meningitis B (MenB) vaccine as part of the routine newborn vaccination programme.
This has been hailed as world leading and it is estimated that over the next decade, this step alone will result in the prevention of up to 4,000 cases of meningococcal disease in children under 5 years of age.
Before the vaccine was introduced Meningitis Research Foundation supported and campaigned for this step to be taken. Despite the clear financial savings for the NHS in reducing the care bill for those children who would no longer be devastated by the effects of the disease, it still took years of hard work before this vaccine programme was approved.
While the new vaccine will not be effective against certain strains of the disease, it will sit alongside the existing meningitis C vaccine which has already saved countless lives.
As well as being actively engaged with important campaigns, MRF work tirelessly to increase awareness for this disease to ensure that medical professionals have the best diagnostic tools available to them. One of the key issues in ensuring that lives are saved is that a swift diagnosis is reached as time is often of the essence and can save lives.
Sadly, some cases are diagnosed too late with terrible consequences.
If you or your family have been affected by the issues raised in this article, please contact a member of our Clinical Negligence Team on 0800 316 8892.