Rise in Meningitis B cases in teenagers and young adults

Rise in Meningitis B cases in teenagers and young adults

As an ambassador and befriender for the Meningitis Research Foundation, and supporting families affected by medical negligence, I spend a lot of my time keeping up to date with medical news and research. In November 2021 I wrote an article on the rise in reported cases of meningitis amongst students, with four young adults diagnosed at Exeter University.

The Covid-19 pandemic saw a sharp decline in reported cases of bacterial strains of meningitis, with restrictions reducing the transmission rates. Until September 2021, the reported rates of meningococcal disease reached a historical low.

However, that low is now showing signs of reversing, and cases of meningococcal disease in teenagers and young adults has show a sharp rise through Autumn 2021 and has now exceeded the pre-pandemic levels.

At Wolferstans, we act for clients who have suffered a delay in diagnosis of the disease, resulting in life-altering injuries including severe scarring, amputation, deafness, brain injuries, mental health conditions and tragically, death. The danger of meningococcal disease is something I personally witnessed, when my Dad was diagnosed with meningitis at 32 years old, after a delay which almost resulted in a tragic outcome.

It is so important that teenagers, young adults and parents are aware of the signs and symptoms of the disease, and how to distinguish these from other potential illnesses such as flu or more recently, Covid-19.

The most common symptoms of meningitis are a stiff neck, sensitivity to light, severe headaches, seizures, a fever, extreme fatigue, muscle pain, confusion and a rash. These are often also associated with signs of sepsis and can include cold hands and feet as well as shivering.

It is clear that the MenACWY vaccination programme, which has been targeted at teenagers since 2015, is working as the meningococcal group W (MenW) accounted for just 6% of reported cases, and no cases of Meningitis Y or Meningitis C strains were identified from September to November 2021.

However, teenagers and young adults remain vulnerable to Meningitis B strain of the disease and the MenACWY does not protect against this strain. Therefore, it is vital that families remain vigilant and bear in mind the signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicemia.

It is important that everyone is aware of the symptoms of meningitis, and to seek urgent medical help if they have any doubt at all that they may have some signs meningitis in themselves or in someone else. Meningitis Research Foundation also have a Support Service available on 080 8800 3344 or helpline@meningitis.org for anyone with queries and concerns.

If you or any members of your family have been a delay in diagnosis of any strain of meningitis, and you would like to receive free independent legal advice, without any obligation, please contact us.

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