Health chiefs in the borough are urging Wiganers to make sure they are familiarise themselves with the tell-tale signs of meningitis.
Dr Sanjay Wahie has echoed calls by charity Meningitis Now for people to stay vigilant as cases of the deadly bacterial form of the disease peak during the winter.
The most well-known symptom is the blotchy rash that doesn’t fade when a glass is rolled over it, but the rash doesn’t occur in every caseDr Sanjay Wahie
As the weather gets colder, the risk of meningitis increases. People spend more time indoors, closer to others; meaning germs are spread more easily and fighting common infections like colds and flu weakens people’s immune systems, leaving them more vulnerable to the disease.
Dr Sanjay Wahie, Local GP and Governing Body Member of Wigan Borough CCG, said: “Meningitis can affect anyone, but it is most common in babies, young children and teenagers. It can be very serious if it isn’t treated quickly, so it’s important to be able to identify the symptoms.
“The most well-known symptom is the blotchy rash that doesn’t fade when a glass is rolled over it, but the rash doesn’t occur in every case. Other symptoms include a high temperature, headache, vomiting, a stiff neck and a dislike of bright lights.
“Vaccinations against some of the most common strains are offered to children at eight weeks (Meningitis B), 16 weeks (Meningitis B), one year (Meningitis B and C) and 14 years old (Meningitis A, C, W and Y).
“I can’t stress enough the importance of getting the vaccinations because they protect people at risk from having a nasty illness, and could potentially save their life.”
Each year there are 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, where septicaemia has occurred, loss of limbs and scarring.
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 five are most at risk of meningitis, with over half of all cases occurring in this age group.”
Meningitis is a difficult disease to spot as many of its early symptoms can be similar to flu. These symptoms can include fever with cold hands and feet, vomiting, headache, stiff neck, dislike of bright light, and joint or muscle pain.
Anyone affected by the disease or who has concerns can contact the charity’s free helpline on 0808 80 10 388 for information on its free support services.