A Buxton dad is urging families to be vigilant to the symptoms of meningitis, following the 10th anniversary of his daughter’s shock death.
Jim Lowe, of Fairfield, now ambassador of the disease, shared his first-hand experience with the Advertiser during national Meningitis Awareness Week, which ends on Sunday, 22 September.
Rachel Lowe, a former New Mills School pupil, died of Meningcoccal meningitis in 2003, aged 15.
Jim Lowe said: “From the time Rachel started complaining of a headache and being sick to the time she died was less than 24 hours.
“The speed of her decline and death devastated all of the family and her many friends and ten years on the grief, shock and disbelief remain. Rachel’s early symptoms were like many other ‘bugs’ that children have. Even a visit to the doctor later the same day did not give any warning of what was to come.
“In Rachel’s case there were no tell tail signs of rash or any obvious links to suggest meningitis and in spite of ambulance and hospital attention it was too late.”
He added: “A vaccination for this terrible disease was not available at the time of her death but had there been one Rachel’s death may never have happened.
“A vaccination does now exist that the government has the capacity to say ‘yes’ to but is balking at the potential cost. What would you think if your child died of meningitis knowing that a vaccination existed that could prevent their death or suffering? I have made sure our MP knows my views on this. I think the people of Derbyshire should too!”
Chris Head, chief executive of Meningitis Research Foundation, said: “Meningitis is a hot topic in the UK and Ireland right now because a new vaccine for Meningococcal B infection (Men B) is currently under-consideration and may not be introduced because of costs.
“We are extremely disappointed by this and campaigning hard for a change of heart. Vaccines have almost eliminated many types of meningitis but meningitis and septicaemia still present a very real threat.
“People are still not fully protected against all types, so being aware of the symptoms and acting fast is essential to saving lives.”
The foundation estimates that the deadly diseases affect approximately ten people in the UK and Ireland every day.
They 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.