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Mum who lost baby daughter to meningitis urges parents to be vigilant

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: January 24, 2013

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A MUM who lost her baby daughter to meningitis is urging parents to be vigilant against the infection, after a new vaccine was licensed for use in Europe.

Alison Walker's daughter Hannah died in July 2003, when she was just eight months old, after suddenly coming down with pneumococcal meningitis – a bacterial form of the infection.

At the time, Alison was unaware of the symptoms of meningitis and therefore did not push doctors to test Hannah for the infection when she was first taken ill.

The shop worker from Prestbury said Hannah might have had a better chance of surviving if she had been diagnosed with meningitis earlier.

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Alison said: "My biggest regret is that when I took my daughter to the doctor and hospital I did not ask whether it was meningitis.

"Asking that could have made a difference because she spent 12 hours in hospital without being diagnosed or treated and every second and minute counts with meningitis."

Alison, who has three other children aged 18, 15 and 12, now volunteers with charity the Meningitis Trust to raise awareness of the infection.

She is urging parents "not to be complacent" and to make themselves aware of the symptoms of meningitis.

"There were five or six days between Hannah being diagnosed and her passing away. She did not display huge symptoms, she was just unwell," she said.

"I spoke to a doctor and he just guessed she was coming down with measles. I knew very little about meningitis at the time, and if I had known more I would have pushed for the doctor to check her for it.

"Parents should make themselves aware of the symptoms of meningitis so they can look out for it."

This week, a vaccine to protect children against one of the most common and deadly forms of meningitis was licensed for use in Europe.

The Bexsero vaccine licensed by the European Commission is the first to cover meningococcal B meningitis.

Until now vaccines had protected against only some of the bacterial types involved.

About 1,870 people in the UK contract meningitis B each year and one in 10 die.

The UK is yet to roll out the jab.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation will meet in June to discuss Bexsero and whether to add it to the list of vaccines routinely offered to young children.

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