A website is being launched in Auckland this week in the hope of saving lives.
The Meningitis Foundation is launching the website, www.meningitis.org.nz, to educate Kiwis about the symptoms and risks of the disease as well as encouraging vaccination against it.
"Winter is the peak period for meningitis infections and there is relatively low awareness of prevention strategies and disease symptoms," Foundation spokesperson Paul Gilberd said.
The website comes a year after one-year-old Northland boy Jacob John Whyte died in Auckland's Starship Hospital with type-C meningitis.
His great-grandmother Josie Howe from Tuakau also died from the disease at Middlemore Hospital four days after visiting Jacob
Meningitis sometimes develops in a matter of hours and can be deadly.
"Meningitis is difficult to diagnose as it presents with flu-like symptoms, but can often strike and progress quickly," Gilberd said.
"If it is not diagnosed early and treated effectively, it can result in death, deafness, loss of limbs, brain damage or other neurological disabilities."
Most cases begin with a high fever, severe headache and stiff neck, often followed by vomiting and drowsiness.
Families of those affected by meningitis can share their experiences on the website as a means of support.
To mark the new website, medical experts will meet tomorrow at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital to discuss all aspects of meningitis, including the latest research.
The main campaign message is: "don't swap spit."
This means not sharing drink bottles, cigarettes, spoons or straws.
Meningitis is spread through the transfer of warm saliva.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Do you have an idea for a story? Email us or give us a call on 09 925 9700.