MENINGITIS survivors from Dorset have urged people to be aware of the signs of the killer disease to help save lives.

Melanie Corney from Poole and mum Catherine Manners from Wimborne have spoken out about their experiences for Meningitis Awareness Week, which runs until Sunday.

They want to warn people to be aware of the symptoms, know to be vigilant and to act fast.

Melanie was 26 when she fell ill with group B meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia.

She says she was initially misdiagnosed with severe gastroenteritis and by the time she was diagnosed correctly, her major organs were shutting down.

Her parents were told to say their final farewells when she was given just a 30 per cent chance of survival.

She said: “Initially I was treated for severe gastroenteritis. By the time I was diagnosed correctly I’d had the meningitis for several days and my major organs were shutting down.

“I think the earlier meningitis is caught, the better prospects a person has regardless of whether they are a child or an adult. Everyone needs to know the symptoms so they can get medical help fast.

“I’m lucky I survived but even now there are still after effects from the meningitis. Most recently I’ve been having dizzy spells because I have hearing problems, most likely caused by the meningitis. If someone is affected by this dreadful disease, the aftercare they get from health professionals is really important as the recovery period can be the hardest.”

Mum Catherine Manners urged parents to trust their instincts after her son Gene Barnes contracted bacterial meningitis in 2013 when he was just four months.

She said: “When I took him to the out of hours GP, they did not suspect anything nasty but I insisted he was seen by the hospital so we got a referral. I always feel so grateful that I trusted my instincts. I know my children better than any health professional and I had a gut feeling something was really wrong. The hospital diagnosed meningitis and thankfully he was treated and eventually allowed to come home.

“I would encourage all parents to know the symptoms of this terrible disease and get medical help quickly if your instinct tells you something is wrong.”

Meningitis Research Foundation estimates that there have been on average around 3,200 cases of meningitis and septicaemia every year in the UK. They are deadly diseases that can strike without warning, killing one in ten, and leaving a quarter of survivors with life altering after-effects ranging from deafness and brain damage to loss of limbs. Babies, toddlers and young adults are most at risk.

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