Sarah Smith with baby Finn, now full of life after beating meningococcal.
Sarah Smith with baby Finn, now full of life after beating meningococcal. Mike Garry

Coast mum’s plea to parents: Don't take any chances

"DON'T take any chances" is Sarah Smith's stern warning to parents ahead of the impending peak season for meningococcal.

Health surveys show the meningococcal disease infection rate spikes between July and September.

Life was turned upside down for the Smiths when baby Finn was diagnosed with the deadly illness in November.

Within hours of developing a fever and only a day after he first started showing signs of being grizzly, the then 13-month-old was fighting a life-and-death battle.

Finn pulled through, but lost parts of his hands and feet as a result of the septicemia that often accompanies the illness.

Mrs Smith has joined the national call from Meningococcal Australia for parents to be aware of the symptoms and to vaccinate their children.

The incidence of the disease rose to 26 cases a month between July and September last year, almost double that of January to March.

Mrs Smith, of Pacific Paradise, said "those who can" should go and get the vaccine.

"It is something not worth going through, what we went through, and even worse with the possibility of losing your child,'' she said.

"It is just too quick. By the time the rash appears the damage is done. But it is also the only time you really know what's going on."

Mrs Smith advised parents to watch out for flu-like systems and "if Panadol doesn't help, go and get some help".

"It certainly is present here on the Coast, don't wait for the rash," she said.

"We were lucky we saw it so quickly. A child died in NSW recently from it.''

Despite his amputations, Finn continues to motor around the house, seemingly oblivious to his disabilities.

He is due to have more surgery next month.

Symptoms:

Headache

Fever

Stiff or painful neck

Sensitivity to light

Muscle or joint pain

A change in skin colour

The late-stage rash may develop. It will start as a spot or blister and turn into purple bruise-like blotches


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