NEWS

Meningitis Septicaemia

Meningitis summer warning

If you think that you can only get meningitis during the winter months, think again, national charity Meningitis Research Foundation is warning people. The consequences can be devastating with one in ten dying and many more being left with a range of disabilities and after effects that dramatically alter their lives.

Many people believe that meningitis and septicaemia - the blood poisoning form of the disease - only occur during winter, but they can strike anyone, of any age, at any time of the year, anywhere in the world.

The Foundation estimates that there are around 3,500 cases in the UK and Ireland every year. About half of those cases are in babies and children and more than half are MenB (Group B meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia). Despite encouraging signs, a possible MenB vaccination is still a number of years away.

Meningitis Research Foundation's Chief Executive Christopher Head commented: "Meningitis and septicaemia are diseases that can leave a baby, child or adult fighting for their life within hours of the first symptoms. Don't be complacent during the summer months, knowing the symptoms and acting fast can save lives."

Researchers trial therapy for children with life-threatening septicaemia

Doctors funded by national charity Meningitis Research Foundation are beginning trials to see whether a drug that has shown promise in the treatment of adults with septicaemia will work in children.

Severe septicaemia including meningococcal septicaemia - the blood poisoning form of meningitis -  is a major cause of death and disability in children.

Although early recognition, powerful antibiotics, and good intensive care have improved survival from meningitis and septicaemia, new ways are needed to save lives and improve outcomes for survivors.

Research in adults has shown that steroid replacement therapy could be useful in some patients. However, children respond differently to adults, and a definitive trial in children is needed.
This pilot study is being led by Dr Saul Faust, Senior Lecturer in Paediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Southampton, and conducted in three paediatric intensive care units at hospitals in Southampton, London and Bristol. The study will provide the necessary information to enable the design of further trials to establish the value of steroid replacement therapy in childhood septicaemia.

Christopher Head, Chief Executive of Meningitis Research Foundation, commented: "Steroid replacement therapy could be an important new way to tackle septicaemia and the current research will provide information on both optimum length of therapy and lead to a better understanding of how steroids work in children. The research costs approximately £240,000 and we are extremely grateful for the support we have received from the Moulton Charitable Foundation towards our costs."