Hethersett meningitis survivor backs vaccine campaign

A student nurse has thrown her backing behind a campaign to roll out a nationwide vaccine against of meningitis after experiencing first hand the devastating effects the disease can inflict.

Hannah Shelton, of Lyngate Close, Hethersett, spent 10 days in hospital last year while doctors battled to rid her body of meningococcal septicaemia after suddenly contracting the deadly disease on her 19th birthday.

The 20-year-old, who is currently studying at Leeds Metropolitan University, is now backing a petition by the Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) which is calling on the Government to urgently provides vaccines to prevent outbreaks of all strains of the disease.

The campaign, called Counting the Cost of Meningitis, reveals the lifelong financial burden of surviving meningitis and septicaemia in severe cases, such as ongoing specialist medical care costs and supporting those unable to work.

The disease has damaged Hannah's short-term memory, but she realises her chances of pulling through would have reduced dramatically if her symptoms had not been picked-up early.

She said: 'I had gone out the night before for my birthday and I thought it was a bit of a hangover. It was really hot outside, but I was shivering and feeling really sick.

'I tried to sleep it off but I woke up at 3am and was sick straightaway and then the rash came out.'

Most Read

Hannah's mother, who is a nurse, immediately recognised the non-blanching rash - a typical sign of meningitis - and called for an ambulance.

The former Hethersett High School pupil would spend the next 10 days at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, where she was treated with anti-biotics and underwent scans and a lumbar puncture.

'I wasn't really aware of the seriousness of it. When my mum told me it was quite a shock,' said Hannah.

'It was touch and go to begin with. One of my feet went quite blue which was a worry because of the risk of amputation.'

Following her discharge from hospital, Hannah treated herself to a trip to Australia before beginning her studies in Leeds.

She added: 'I had severe headaches for a few days afterwards due to the lumbar puncture and I have continuing memory problems but compared to others who have had the disease I am very lucky.'

Christopher Head, chief executive of MRF, said: 'Our campaign makes practical recommendations to Government to reduce the burden of disease through vaccination in the UK.

'Vaccination provides peace of mind for every parent across to the country and to date over 4,000 people agree with us and have signed our online petition.'

For more information, visit www.meningitis.org