Bereaved parents in disease warning

PUBLISHED: 12:05 14 September 2006 | UPDATED: 10:54 06 May 2010

Catherine Tapp

Catherine Tapp

PARENTS of a 16-year-old girl who died 24 hours after contracting meningitis and septicaemia are backing a campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms of the life-threatening diseases. Catherine Tapp, of Wallington Road, Baldock, died in May last year and

PARENTS of a 16-year-old girl who died 24 hours after contracting meningitis and septicaemia are backing a campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms of the life-threatening diseases.

Catherine Tapp, of Wallington Road, Baldock, died in May last year and her parents, Susan and Graham, are speaking out during Meningitis Awareness Week in a bid to prevent more deaths.

Susan said: "At first Catherine appeared to have flu.

"It was devastating just how quickly she became ill and now we want to help raise awareness of these terrible diseases.

"Its absolutely essential people know the symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia, especially the 'red flag' symptoms which include cold hands and feet, limb pain and pale or mottled skin."

These 'red flag' symptoms typically occur between five and eight hours before the classic symptoms of a severe headache, rash, neck stiffness and impaired consciousness.

Denise Vaughan, chief executive of the Meningitis Research Foundation, said: "Early diagnosis is crucial.

"This disease can progress so fast that within a few short hours of the initial symptoms being present a previously healthy child or adult could be in intensive care fighting for their life."

Susan said: "People also need to be aware that meningitis is still a threat even if you've had a vaccine.

"The vaccine does not cover all strains but people have a false sense of security. Catherine had been vaccinated against meningitis C but the strain she contracted has never been identified."

The symptoms of septicaemia also include a fever, vomiting, abdominal pain and rapid or unusual breathing.

Symptoms in babies also include getting paler or turning blue, refusing to feed and having a stiff body with jerky movements, or else floppy and lifeless.

Each year in the UK there are more than 3,000 cases of meningitis and septicaemia, resulting in around 300 deaths.

Meningitis Aware-ness Week takes place from September 18 to 24 and aims to reduce the number of deaths by educating people about the diseases.

For free information, call the 24-hour helpline on 080 8800 3344 or visit www.meningitis.org

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