Meningitis Factfile: How to spot the signs as one mum warns parents to check for symptoms after son lost leg and fingers

All children born after May 1st are being offered jabs for the B strain of the illness Credit: PA

This week is Meningitis awareness week. Babies across the region are now being offered vaccinations against meningococcal meningitis & scepticemia for the first time in the UK.

All children born after May 1st are being offered jabs for the B strain of the illness as part of routine injections available on the NHS.

One mother is advising parents to look out for the symptoms after her one-year-old caught one of the rarest strains of the illness, which led to his leg and fingers being amputated.

But what are the symptoms of the disease and what should you do if you think you've got it?

Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord.

This infection causes these membranes (the meninges) to become inflamed, which in some cases can damage the nerves and brain.

Signs and symptoms of meningitis: Anyone can get meningitis, but babies and young children under five years of age are most at risk.

  • A baby or young child with meningitis may have a high fever, with cold hands and feet

  • Vomit and refuse to fee

  • Feel agitated and not want to be picked up

  • Become drowsy, floppy and unresponsive

  • Grunt or breathe rapidly

  • Have an unusual high-pitched or moaning cry

  • Have pale, blotchy skin, and a red rash that doesn't fade when a glass is rolled over it

  • Have a tense, bulging soft spot on their head

  • Have a stiff neck and dislike bright lightshave convulsions or seizures

Around 10 per cent of people who contract the infection die, while many others are left with permanent disabilities.

Tests suggest the new vaccine will protect against 90 per cent of the meningitis B strains circulating in the UK - potentially saving around 4,000 children from the infection each year.

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