Meningitis Foundation Monday 20 August 2012, 2:50PM
Media release from Meningitis Foundation
New Zealanders concerned about meningitis now have a place to turn
for information with the launch of The Meningitis Foundation
Aotearoa New Zealand website - www.meningitis.org.nz.
"Meningitis is difficult to diagnose as it presents with flu-like
symptoms, but can often strike and progress quickly. If it is not
diagnosed early and treated effectively, it can result in death,
deafness, loss of limbs, brain damage or other neurological
disabilities," says Paul Gilberd, board member and spokesperson,
The Meningitis Foundation Aotearoa New Zealand.
The Meningitis Foundation website www.meningitis.org.nz is an
important tool in educating Kiwis about the symptoms of meningitis,
the need to urgently seek medical assistance if meningitis is
suspected and the importance of vaccinating against this deadly
Meningitis is the inflammation of the meninges (the membrane lining
of the brain and spinal cord). It can sometimes develop in a matter
of hours and can be deadly. Most cases of meningitis start with a
high fever, severe headache and stiff neck, often followed by
vomiting and drowsiness. Some people experience discomfort when
looking at bright lights and in some cases a rash may appear.
"Winter is the peak period for meningitis infections and there is
relatively low awareness of prevention strategies and disease
symptoms," says Paul Gilberd. "We wanted to provide easy access to
information; where people could learn about meningitis, understand
the preventative role of vaccinations, and to know what symptoms to
look out for.
"The website also serves as a place for individuals and families
affected by meningitis to share their experiences. We recognise the
affect that meningitis can have on a family and know that having
accurate information can help people to cope when a loved one is
ill. It can also provide support during what can be a long journey
back to health," adds Paul Gilberd.
To mark the website launch, The Meningitis Foundation is bringing
together medical professionals for a Winter Wellness Workshop on
Tuesday 21st August at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital. Winter sees
a spike in the diagnosis of meningitis and deaths caused by this
"People need to be reminded of the vital message 'Don't swap
spit'," says Paul Gilberd. "In practical terms this means don't
share drink bottles, cigarettes, spoons or straws. This disease,
like many others, is spread through the transfer of warm saliva.
With winter coughs and colds, and lots of people all together
indoors, this is the most dangerous time of year. Together we must
"Meningitis is preventable," adds Paul Gilberd. "Through the
website The Meningitis Foundation aims to raise awareness of the
symptoms of this disease, and ultimately save lives."