A WOMAN whose father died of meningitis days after being diagnosed with a virus wants people to be more aware of the dangers of the disease.
Anna Barnes, who lives in Christleton, has shared her experience of the killer disease in support of National Meningitis Awareness Week, which begins today.
Her father, John Price, died of meningitis and septicaemia aged 64 just 12 days after his first symptoms.
Anna tells how her father initially went to the doctors after complaining of a stiff neck, muscle pains and flu-like symptoms and the GP diagnosed a virus and prescribed painkillers.
Four days later Mr Price woke up with a severe headache and was sick so he went back to the GP who sent him to the Countess of Chester Hospital for a chest X-ray – suspecting a bacterial infection.
A few hours later one doctor noticed he seemed confused and Mr Price was sent for a brian scan. He slipped into a coma on the way to the scan and never regained consciousness.
Anna said: “So many people I have spoken to since his death have been so shocked when I have said it was meningitis – the normal reaction is along the lines of, ‘I thought only children got that’.
“I have got three young children and I have been absolutely paranoid about it every time they get ill. When my dad got ill it never occurred to me and I just want to make people realise it is not just young children who get it.
“In my dad’s case it started with septicaemia and that is very rare in healthy people so there was no reason to suspect it. The GP who saw him said that because he did not have a rash it did not occur to him that it might be this.
“Also the time of year dad was ill – it is very easy to think it is just a flu without something like a rash.”
Anna praised the efforts of the doctors and nurses who tried everything to help her father recover but despite their best efforts he died on January 30.
Anna has now spoken out to raise awareness of the dangers of the disease during National Meningitis Awareness Week, which runs until Sunday.
Meningitis and septicaemia affects approximately 10 people in the UK and Ireland every day and can strike without warning.
Children under five and students are most at risk, but Anna hopes sharing her experience will make people aware the disease can strike at any age.
Chris Head, chief executive of the Meningitis Research Foundation, said: “Vaccines have almost eliminated some types of meningitis but not all of them so people need to be aware meningitis and septicaemia present a very real threat to people of all age groups. Being aware of the symptoms and acting fast is essential to saving lives.”
Anna said: “My dad was a fit, active and healthy 64-year-old. I’m supporting Meningitis Awareness Week as everyone needs to know these diseases affect people of all ages.”