Meningitis cards for parents of children in Cornwall

Parents in Cornwall are being targeted in a campaign to raise awareness of meningitis among under-fives.

A reference card is being given to parents to alert them of the signs of the disease.

In Cornwall, there were 197 cases between 2003 and 2010, with about half of those being under the age of five, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) said.

Cards will be distributed to children's centres, child minders and nurseries.

Stephanie Harris's son, four-year-old Marshall Janson, contracted meningitis on Boxing Day 2008.

Ms Harris, from Perranporth, Cornwall, said: "It's brilliant to make parents aware of the symptoms. If parents have any doubt they should go straight to their doctor or hospital."

The reference cards will contain information about the symptoms and what to do.

A spokesman from the HPA said: "We want to target new parents so they are aware of the symptoms.

"It's very important to tell parents of under-fives about the signs to look out for, because the children can't tell them what's wrong, like other age groups," he added.

Symptoms in babies and small children include a shrill cry or unusual moaning, refusal to feed, tense or bulging fontanelle (soft spot on head), pale blotchy skin, rapid breathing, fever or lethargy.

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