Know the meningitis signs

Daniell Sharpe, 10 years old from Ackworth. Suffered with meningitis when she was 3 years old.'p302b239
Daniell Sharpe, 10 years old from Ackworth. Suffered with meningitis when she was 3 years old.'p302b239

EIGHT years ago aged just two, Danielle Sharpe lost her right foot, the toes on her left and a finger as a result of meningitis.

Now as part of meningitis awareness week, her father is urging other parents to be on the lookout for the warning signs.

Michael Sharpe, 39, of Chapel Garth, Ackworth, said it took just an hour for Danielle, now ten, to deteriorate from being slightly unwell to fighting for her life when the deadly condition struck in January 2005.

He said: “The night before she was poorly, but we presumed it was a bit of a cold coming on – she wanted to drink a lot, her breathing was fast and she had a temperature, so we gave her some Calpol and thought she’d feel better in the morning.

“The next morning her mum checked in on her at 9.30am and she was still sleeping, but seemed ok, then at 10am when Danielle woke up, she was covered in the rash.”

Danielle was taken straight to hospital with meningitis septicaemia and spent 12 days in an induced coma on the intensive care unit – but it wasn’t until four weeks after onset of the illness that Michael and Danielle’s mum Kerrie learned the full extent of the damage it had done to their daughter.

However, Michael said losing her foot had not stopped Danielle from getting on with a normal life.

He said: “Over the past few years she has asked whether everything is going to grow back, but she’s at an age now where she realises what’s happened – not that it makes it easier for her, but she manages and gets through.

“I think if it had happened when she was a bit older it could have been totally different, but she has grown up with it as part of her normal life.

“She is very independent and will do things on her own, it’s probably us who fuss more over her and worry when we don’t need to.”

Meningitis and septacaemia affect around 3,600 people in the UK and Ireland every year. As part of Meningitis Awareness Week, charity the Meningitis Research Foundation is urging people to be aware of the symptoms, which include:

l Fever and vomiting.

l Severe headache.

l Stiff neck.

l Dislike of bright lights.

l Sleepy/difficult to wake.

l Confusion or delirium.

l Seizures.

l Rash (also found in septicaemia).

Septicaemia symptoms include:

l Limb/joint/muscle pain.

l Cold hands and feet/shivering.

l Pale or mottled skin.

l Fast breathing.

Michael said: “I would say to any parent, if you are unsure of anything just ring 999. Just go with your own instincts, if something’s not right, the hospital is there for that reason.

“All the symptoms can be symptoms of a cold, so I would just say keep a close eye, because the rash can come up that quickly. Most times it might be nothing, but just be aware.”

Visit www.meningitis.org to find out more about the warning signs.