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MELKSHAM mum Beth Smith is warning parents to be aware of the signs of deadly meningitis after her baby contracted the disease.
Baby Riley thankfully survived after becoming ill at the beginning of September, but Beth wants to use her experience to help others know what to look out for in their own children.
Beth explained that Riley was first taken into hospital with a high temperature and was diagnosed with a complex urine infection. A few days later he was sent home, but when his temperature started to rise again, Beth took Riley back to the doctor. This time, after he was referred to hospital, he was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis.
“Being told my baby had meningitis was like a punch in the gut,” said Beth, “especially as Riley did not present like a very sick baby. We thought for a while that he just had a cold.
“We didn’t think in a million years it was as serious as it was – in fact the only reason I took him to the GP was due to him being ill the week before. The signs can be so subtle, it’s no wonder it doesn’t always get picked up on until it’s too late.
“In my mind I was struggling, thinking well he doesn’t have a rash, he isn’t floppy etc so he can’t have meningitis.”
Riley spent more than two weeks in hospital before he was allowed home, and the doctors have said they don’t believe he will have any long-lasting effects, but Beth said she had been through the hardest time of her life.
“Not only was I in hospital with my sick baby, not always knowing if he would be coming home again, but I had left my 2-year-old son at home and missed him dearly.
“We were the lucky ones and I truly hope that more awareness and research can help prevent more families going through this. I wouldn’t wish this experience on my worst enemy, but at least we had a happy ending.”
Meningitis Now is working towards a future where no-one in the UK loses their life to meningitis and everyone affected gets the support they need.
It does this by funding research into vaccines and prevention, raising awareness so people know what to look for and what action to take if they suspect meningitis and rebuilding futures by providing dedicated support to people living with the impact of the disease.
For more information and to donate visit www.MeningitisNow.org