Meningitis has more than doubled in a year, alarmingly

An analysis of Meningitis Now shows that cases of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) in England increased from 80 in 2020-21 to 205 in the 12 months to June 2022. The UK Health Safety Agency recorded 28 cases from July to September 2021, 65 cases from October to December. 2021, 57 from January to March 2022 and 55 from April to June 2022, show four quarterly reports.

The latest report notes that the 55 reported cases of IMD are “triple the number of cases in the same period in 2021, when 17 cases were reported, and double the 29 cases reported in 2020.”

The UKHSA added: “However, IMD cases in April and June 2022 were 55% lower than the same pre-pandemic period in 2019, when 122 cases were reported.”

The UKHSA is the government agency responsible for protecting people from health threats, including infectious diseases.

Meningitis Now reports that the UKHSA data also show that 179 cases were due to MenB (meningococcal group B), with 84 of those cases occurring in individuals aged 15 to 24 years.

The figures show that nearly a third of MenB cases occur in children under the age of five, and 32% of MenB cases occur in adults.

Dr Tom Nutt, chief executive of the charity, said: “For most of this time, the country was still in lockdown with many of us in isolation or practicing social distancing. As these restrictions are eased, the number of cases of meningitis has in turn risen from historic lows.”

He added: “We all need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of meningitis so that people know to act quickly and seek emergency medical care to save lives.”

Dr Shamez Ladhani, consultant epidemiologist for UKHSA, said: “Restrictions imposed during the pandemic and social distancing measures have affected the spread of many infections.

“The risk of meningococcal infection remains very low. We are vigilant in making sure they are aware of the symptoms.”

The National Health Service website reports that symptoms of meningitis and sepsis include high fever, cold hands and feet, vomiting, confusion, rapid breathing, mottled or blotchy skin, dislike of bright lights, and seizures.

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