Mum shares shocking truth about meningitis

PUBLISHED: 09:31 10 September 2008 | UPDATED: 22:19 15 June 2010

COLYTON mother Chloe Dawson is keeping her Valentine baby close to her heart after she nearly lost him to meningitis.

COLYTON mother Chloe Dawson is keeping her Valentine baby close to her heart - after she nearly lost him to meningitis.But three-year-old Jake, born on February 14, did not pull through unscarred. Losing three fingers, the tips of his toes and left with a deformity in his legs, he will need surgery until he is an adult to help him grow.Miss Dawson, 27, of Western Place, believes such devastating effects could have been avoided, had they been more aware of the disease, and is now on a mission to alert other parents to the dangers of meningitis.Marking Meningitis Awareness Week, from September 15 to 21, Miss Dawson is highlighting the symptoms of meningitis - in the hope that other parents will not have to go through the same trauma.At 10 months-old, Jake was rushed to hospital in London where doctors diagnosed the cause of his illness.She said: "It's quite shocking how ill he was and how quickly he deteriorated. He was later put in intensive care. "We didn't know if he was going to make it, and this was just within 24 hours of us thinking he had a cold. Not knowing what it was and waiting to hear was horrific. "I'm thankful that he survived - others aren't so lucky. Also, he still has his legs although, at one point, we weren't sure if they would have to be amputated as they were just black. "He now has a lot of scarring, doesn't walk very well and needs growth plates in his legs to help him grow. But, if we had known the signs and symptoms, it could have been much better. All he needed was a simple antibiotic treatment."Jake spent three months in hospital as Miss Dawson and partner Michael Challis, 26, waited anxiously. He was then released on his birthday - February 14 - Valentine's Day.Miss Dawson is now supporting Meningitis Research Foundation's awareness week, encouraging everyone to be aware of the symptoms."It could save a life," she said. "You never think it will happen to you, but it definitely can."Every day nine people will become ill with meningitis, with a death occurring almost every day, and a further two people left with life-altering after-effects such as severe brain damage, deafness and multiple amputations.Meningitis Research Foundation chief executive Christopher Head said: "There are vaccines which provide excellent protection, but not all forms of meningitis and septicaemia can be prevented. In particular, there is no vaccine to protect against MenB disease, which causes most cases in this country."Meningitis and septicaemia are devastating diseases which within just a few hours can leave a baby, child or adult fighting for their life. "Knowing the symptoms and acting fast will save lives."l Symptoms of meningitis include: severe headache; stiff neck; dislike of bright lights; fever/vomiting; drowsy and less responsive/vacant; rash and possibly fits.l Septicaemia often starts with non-specific flu-like symptoms. Other symptoms include: rash; fever/vomiting; cold hands and feet/shivering; limb/joint/muscle pain; abdominal pain (sometimes with diarrhoea); pale or mottled skin; rapid or unusual breathing; drowsy and less responsive/vacant.l Other symptoms in babies include: tense or bulging fontanelle (soft spot); blotchy skin; getting paler or turning blue; refusing to feed; irritable when picked up; with a high pitched or moaning cry; a stiff body with jerky movements or else floppy and lifeless.l Free 'Be Aware' symptom packs are available through the Foundation's Freefone 24 hour helpline 0808 800 3344 or its website

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