The insidious thing about meningitis is that during its initial stages, it’s easy for it to be misdiagnosed. Its symptoms are so commonly attributed to commonplace illnesses, and as a result, it is often dismissed—only to worsen over time.
That’s the scenario parents Sarah and Aaron Parkyn found themselves in when their four-year-old daughter Jazmyn went down with an unknown illness.
At first the couple thought Jazmyn was simply coming down with the same flu that had been going around their house. But when Sarah tried comforting her the following morning, her daughter started screaming at the slightest touch.
“She couldn’t stand anything touching her legs. She just kept screaming,” Sarah said in a Daily Mail report. “I noticed a couple of marks on her legs, but it just looked like a heat rash.”
The concerned parents rushed her to the hospital, where they found out that Jazmyn was suffering from meningitis. The toddler also suffered from a seizure and was put in the intensive care. Soon dark spots started appearing all over her body.
The poor toddler ended up staying in the hospital a month; she underwent 15 different skin grafts to help replace the dead tissue covering her skin.
What most upset Sarah and Aaron however is the knowledge that their daughter’s past immunisations didn’t protect her from the meningococcal B strain.
“She was completely up to date with her immunisations, but we had no idea that this didn’t include being covered against the B strain,” said Sarah.
In the family’s hometown of Renmark, South Australia, parents have to pay for it privately.
“All those times we’d been to the doctors to discuss immunisations, and nobody ever mentioned it,” Sarah griped. “This disease can cost people their lives or limbs, or cause major scarring. Shouldn’t that be enough of a reason to put it on the national immunisation programme?”
According to a Popsugar report, the meningitis B vaccine is only recommended for people at a high risk for contracting the disease, like college students and lab workers.
Now the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine committee has now expanded its recommendation and advises that all people between the ages of 16 and 23 consider being vaccinated.
What is meningitis?
According to Meningitis.org, it is a condition in which inflammation occurs in the lining around the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis can either be bacterial or viral, but sometimes it can also be due to fungal infections.
“Viral meningitis can be very unpleasant but it is almost never life threatening,” the website said. “Bacterial meningitis is more serious and can be caused by a range of different bacteria.”
Symptoms of meningitis:
- A tense or bulging soft spot
- A high fever (but can run normal-low in babies under 3 months)
- Cold hands and feet
- A dislike of being picked up
- A sleepy expression or too sleepy to wake up
- Rapid breathing or trouble breathing
- “Pink prick” rash marks or purple bruises
- An unusual grunting noise
- Vomiting or refusing to eat
- Pale or blotchy skin
- A stiff or floppy body
- Limb or joint pain