LONDON, September 16, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --
GSK has today announced the launch of the Tackle Meningitis campaign in partnership with former England Rugby player, Matt Dawson, an initiative aimed at raising awareness of meningitis, which is a rare but potentially fatal disease. The campaign is also backed by UK charities Meningitis Research Foundation and Meningitis Now.
Tackle Meningitis aims to increase understanding of the disease, its symptoms and the fact that there are different strains of meningitis that can affect both children and young people, using the influence of sport and teamwork to reach as many people as possible.
With the peak season for meningitis just around the corner, the campaign will raise awareness of existing information and materials that can be used to help spot suspected cases of meningitis, as well as undertaking a nationwide survey to assess how much people know about the disease and to highlight any information gaps. The results of the survey, which will be announced later in the year, will be used to guide the direction of the Tackle Meningitis campaign throughout 2017 engaging with schools, rugby clubs and community organisations.
Matt Dawson has first-hand experience of meningitis after his two-year old son, Sami, contracted meningitis in February this year and remained critically ill on a life-support machine for two weeks afterwards. Sami subsequently recovered from the disease and Matt now wants parents and families to receive the knowledge and education that he feels he lacked.
Matt said: "I wish I had known more about meningitis and what to look out for. People only think of the glass test, but there are other lesser known symptoms that it's very important to be aware of. In truth, I was fairly ignorant about how dangerous it can be, but thankfully we turned out to be incredibly lucky. With this disease, even a matter of minutes can make a huge difference to the outcome.
"I feel passionate about standing behind a campaign which uses the power and influence of sport and its ability to reach people of all ages. Together we can tackle meningitis to give families the best fighting chance against this devastating disease."
Vinny Smith, Meningitis Research Foundation Chief Executive, said: "Meningitis is a devastating disease that can kill or cause disability in a matter of hours. Amongst those most at risk are babies, children and young people, but anyone can be affected.
"Knowing the signs, symptoms and steps to take is crucial in order to act fast and improve outcomes, and this is what we will be working towards during next week's Meningitis Awareness Week. Our hope is that campaigns like Tackle Meningitis will generate a real shift in the way parents and families think about and act towards meningitis and septicaemia."
Liz Brown, Chief Executive at Meningitis Now commented: "We welcome GSK's efforts to drive up levels of awareness of meningitis and applaud Matt Dawson's courage in using his experience of the disease to help save lives.
With 30 years' experience of fighting this disease, we know how important the awareness message is, having shared 1.3 million free signs and symptoms cards last year alone and provided clear and accurate information for more people than ever before. As parents like Matt Dawson have found, early symptoms of the disease can be overlooked, with in some cases, devastating consequences. We are particularly excited to see how 'Tackle Meningitis' utilises sport to reach those who still don't know about the disease."
Symptoms of meningitis can develop rapidly. The first symptoms are usually fever, vomiting, headache and feeling unwell. Limb pain, pale skin, and cold hands and feet often appear earlier than the rash (which doesn't fade when a glass is rolled over it), neck stiffness, dislike of bright lights and confusion. Although a rash is often the most well-known symptom, it is often a sign that the disease is advancing rapidly and it is therefore crucial not to wait to for it to appear before seeking medical attention.
Notes to editors
About meningitis and septicaemia
Meningitis is the inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord (meninges). It can be very serious if not treated quickly, with the potential to cause life-threatening blood poisoning (septicaemia), permanent damage to the brain or nerves, loss of limbs and in some cases, death. In the early stages of the disease it can be very difficult to tell meningitis and septicaemia apart from milder diseases, as they often resemble common viral illnesses.
There are several types, or strains, of meningococcal bacteria with the main groups being A, B, C, W, X, and Y and although group B meningococcal causes the majority of disease in the UK, all of the meningococcal bacteria strains can be fatal. Vaccines are available to protect against some of the strains, however, no single vaccine protects against all strains. Meningitis and septicaemia can kill in hours, making it vital to be aware of the symptoms and act accordingly. If you suspect someone may have meningitis or septicaemia you need to trust your instincts and seek the nearest medical help immediately.
About Meningitis Research Foundation
Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) is a UK-based charity that aims to raise awareness of meningitis and septicaemia and provide support to all those affected by the two diseases. A key aspect of their work involves funding research into the prevention, detection and treatment of meningitis and septicaemia and sharing the knowledge gained by research so everyone can benefit. The charity currently funds 16 research projects throughout the world, and since its foundation in 1989, it has awarded 147 research grants, leading to many advances in the prevention, detection and treatment of meningitis and septicaemia.
About Meningitis Now
Meningitis Now is a charity with almost 30 years' experience. The charity was formed in 2013 by bringing together Meningitis UK and Meningitis Trust, founders of the meningitis movement in the UK. They fund research into vaccines and prevention and aim to reduce the impact of the disease by raising awareness and providing people with the knowledge and information they need to get urgent medical attention if they suspect meningitis. A large part of their work also goes into rebuilding futures by providing dedicated support to people living with the impact of meningitis.
Both Meningitis Research Foundation and Meningitis Now back the Tackle Meningitis campaign, but will continue to run their own campaigns separately.
GSK - one of the world's leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies - is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. For further information please visit http://www.gsk.com.
Cautionary statement regarding forward-looking statements
GSK cautions investors that any forward-looking statements or projections made by GSK, including those made in this announcement, are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Such factors include, but are not limited to, those described under Item 3.D 'Risk factors' in the company's Annual Report on Form 20-F for 2015.
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