Meningitis advice for East End parents for start of school

Parents in the East End are being warned about the risk their children could face from meningitis when they return to school next month.

Charity Meningitis UK is stressing the importance of recognising symptoms of the potentially deadly strain meningitis B - as the disease can kill within four hours.

The close confines of the classroom provide the perfect breeding ground for germs, the charity warns.

Dr Anna Livingstone, a GP at the Limehouse Practice, said: “When children and young people are gathering in large numbers, that is the risky time.

“Parents should always be alert to meningitis as it is something that can creep up on you very quickly - the child can be well one moment and seriously unwell the next.

“If parents are advised that it is likely to be flu and then the symptoms don’t follow the course of flu then they should get advice again.”

Meningitis B is the most common form and there is no available vaccine against it but research in the field means one could soon be available.

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Dr Livingstone added: “It is thought there will be a vaccine within a few years.”

Signs to watch out for include a stiff neck, fever, a dislike of bright light and vomiting.

Meningitis B can also lead to blood poisoning, or septicaemia, which can be spotted by aching limbs, cold hands and feet and a rash.

Injections are only available for certain strains, such as meningitis C and pneumococcal meningitis.

A spokeswoman for NHS East London and the City said: “All infants under one should receive two meningitis C vaccinations – one at three months and the other at four months.

“If the child is over 12 months then they should receive one meningitis C jab and they will then be protected for the rest of their childhood.”

In Tower Hamlets more than 96 per cent of children under one and 94 per cent of two-year-olds are up to date with their jabs.