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First Day at School for Cornish Boy who Beat Meningitis

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6:00am 5th September 2012

A Perranporth mum whose baby lost his hands and legs to meningitis supports a back-to-school awareness campaign.

Little Marshall Janson starts class next month, as a charity launches a new smart phone app to help mums and dads spot the symptoms.

Cornish health bosses had to deal with nine cases in a year.

Just days after celebrating his first birthday and Christmas, mum Stephanie did not think Marshall would make it to his second: "It's the worst feeling any mother could possibly have. It's absolutely devastating that you think your child's not going to make it but is and he's so strong and so tough and he just amazes us all the time; the things he can do that you think he's not going to be able to do.

"We're just so thankful for Marshall to be able to have the best quality of life. Bouncing around, jumping off sofas and he's bright and just wants to be happy and playing."

The campaign is being launched by the Meningitis Trust.

It says the end of September sees the start of the peak season for meningitis so the charity is urging all parents, students and teachers to be vigilant of the signs and symptoms.
 
While children under 5 are most 'at risk' for meningitis, teenagers and students are the second most 'at risk' group (aged 15 - 23 years). It is estimated that 10% of the population carry the organism which causes meningitis, but this increases to up to 30% for teenagers and young people.
 
The risk of meningitis increases during the colder months as people spend more time indoors, closer to others; meaning germs are spread more easily. Fighting common infections like colds and flu weakens immune systems, leaving them more vulnerable to the disease.
 
Sue Davie, Chief Executive of the Meningitis Trust, said: "Meningitis can be a difficult disease to spot - particularly at this time of year - as many of its early symptoms can be similar to those of flu. We urge everyone to familiarise themselves with the symptoms, trust their instincts and get urgent medical help if concerned. Doing this could save yours or a loved one's life."   
 
Every year 3,400 cases of bacterial meningitis are reported in the UK - leaving 10% dead and 15% of those who survive with severe 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 strike in minutes and kill within hours, so knowledge of the symptoms, vigilance and quick action is vital.
 
The symptoms of meningitis can include:

Fever with cold hands and feet
Vomiting
Headache
Stiff neck
Dislike of bright light
Joint or muscle pain
Pale blotchy skin
Drowsiness and confusion.

In babies, a dislike of being handled, an unusual cry, rapid breathing and bulging fontanelle.

Both adults and children may also have a rash that does not fade under pressure.

Symptoms can appear in any order and some may not appear at all.

The advice is, if at all concerned, seek urgent medical attention.

6:00am 5th September 2012

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