Many people believe meningitis can only be contracted during the winter months, when people are more susceptible to illness, but viral meningitis cases are known to peak during the summer and can strike anyone, of any age.
So the MRF is encouraging people in the area to familiarise themselves with information on how to spot symptoms as many cases of viral meningitis are mistaken for more common illnesses like flu.
Symptoms include fever, vomiting, severe headache, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights, and rash. Sometimes the disease progresses with further symptoms such as being sleepy/vacant/difficult to wake, confused/delirious, or having seizures.
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Unlike bacterial meningitis, viral meningitis is almost never life threatening however it is very unpleasant and can have long-lasting after-effects such as severe headaches, extreme tiredness, loss of hearing, depression and memory loss.
A proportion of people have recurrent bouts of viral meningitis every few months which can reduce their quality of life and ability to work.
The Foundation’s Linda Glennie, Head of Research and Medical Information at Meningitis Research Foundation said: “Most cases of viral meningitis are relatively mild and those affected recover without medical treatment.
“Although most people recover within five days to a fortnight, it may take more time, and for some people the recovery period is prolonged. Antibiotics are ineffective against viruses, so treatment is normally limited to easing the symptoms of the disease.
“If you think a loved one has meningitis trust your instincts and seek urgent medical help, only a doctor can determine what treatment is needed.”
For information on the signs and symptoms of meningitis, you can call the free helpline on 080 8800 3344, visit www.meningitis.org or download the free app from I-tunes ‘Meningitis – Know the Symptoms’.