A campaign to help parents spot the symptoms of sepsis to protect young children and save lives has been launched.
It is principally aimed at parents and carers of young children aged from birth to four and will include a new film featuring mother and campaigner Melissa Mead, who lost her baby son William to sepsis in December 2014.
The campaign in the past has also received support from the family of Wigan schoolgirl Jemma Roberts.
The 13-year-old Standish High pupil died in 2014 in Alder Hey Children’s Hospital after becoming ill with sepsis which her parents believe was a form of the bacterial infection called Toxic Shock Syndrome.
Her parents Diane and Tony helped to raise thousands of pounds for the hospital and have now decided to focus on awareness-raising of the medical issues instead.
Diane said: “It is our aim is to campaign to create awareness of TSS and sepsis, with the aim of making as many people aware of the signs and symptoms as possible, with the help of Wigan Council, TSS Aware and Sepsis Trust.
Sepsis is a cruel, ruthless condition which doesn’t discriminate and can affect anyone.Melissa Mead
“If I had known the signs and symptoms I would have realised how seriously ill Jemma was.”
The family had just thought that the Whelley youngster had come down with a bug while they were holidaying in Wales but then took her the doctor’s after she complained that her back and neck were aching.
The UK Sepsis Trust estimates that there are more than 120,000 cases of sepsis and around 37,000 deaths each year in England.
Millions of leaflets and posters have been sent to GP surgeries and hospitals across the country.
These materials, developed with the Royal Colleges, will urge parents to call 999 or take their child to A&E if they display any of the following signs:
Looks mottled, bluish or pale;
Is very lethargic or difficult to wake;
Feels abnormally cold to touch;
Is breathing very fast;
Has a rash that does not fade when you press it;
Has a fit or convulsion.
Dr Jane Rossini Deputy Director for Public Health England North West said: “We know that acting quickly in cases of sepsis can save a child’s life and it is important parents have the information to take action.
“This campaign gives parents vital information and helps them identify the symptoms of sepsis and encourages them to seek the appropriate medical attention.”
Campaign supporter and UK Sepsis trust ambassador Melissa Mead said: “Sepsis is a cruel, ruthless condition which doesn’t discriminate and can affect anyone.
“I hope this campaign reaches as many people as possible, so all parents out there know about sepsis and how serious it can be. The more parents know, the quicker they can act if they suspect their child may be suffering from sepsis – it could be life-saving.
“I will never hear my sweet child say ‘mummy I love you’. I will never know the man that William would have grown to be. So please, it is too late for me to ‘think sepsis’, but it’s not too late for you.”
For further information on sepsis, visit nhs.uk/sepsis or www.sepsistrust.org