Meningitis scare for mum

Quick action by hospital staff saved Grayson

Last updated 11:30 09/10/2012
Andrea Fleming
Scott Hammond

Safely home: Andrea Fleming and son Grayson, relax at home after Grayson spent three days in hospital battling meningitis.

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A Blenheim mother was shellshocked when her baby boy was diagnosed with meningitis.

Andrea Fleming knew something was wrong when Grayson Fleming, who is 10 weeks old, cried through the night and would not be comforted.

By morning Grayson was in Wairau Hospital with an intravenous drip feeding him antibiotics and a health protection officer was phoning more than 50 people, including parents of children in a Mainly Music toddler's group, who had been in contact with him during the previous week.

Quick action by hospital staff had saved Grayson's life and it seems no-one else caught the illness, but Grayson spent five days hooked up to the drip and his family had been badly shaken by the whole experience.

The ordeal started ordinarily enough when Grayson would not settle or stop crying on September 30. Miss Fleming checked his temperature and noticed it was slightly high. Nothing too much to worry about, she thought, but she kept an eye on him. By 4am he had a rash, but it was only a few scattered purplish dots. When things had not improved by 7am she decided to ring Health Line, who told her to go straight to Wairau Hospital.

"When we got put straight in the emergency department I started getting worried. I always thought my children wouldn't get [meningitis] or if they did, I'd know."

At the hospital, Grayson was put straight on an IV and taken for a test for meningitis. Miss Fleming felt reassured when the doctor told her it was unlikely to be meningitis, so the diagnosis came as more of a shock.

"I didn't see it coming. I just freaked out. I rang my mum and everyone and they were all crying and panicking."

The three days they spent in hospital were hard, she said.

"There were all these masks and coats all around us and they [the doctors and nurses] had to wear them for days. I felt so isolated."

However, she was extremely grateful to the hospital staff for their excellent care.

Staff from the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board also contacted everyone Grayson had been in contact with during the previous week, just in case.

Nelson Marlborough medical officer of health Jill Sherwood said it was not clear what caused Grayson's meningitis or if it was the serious meningococcal disease. However, the illness could not be spread by casual contact.

"It really requires some close ongoing contact - from children in particular it's got to be the equivalent of sleeping in the same household, not just visiting for a few hours."

Miss Fleming said worrying about others who might have been affected was frightening.

"All our family, my daughter who's 18 months old, had to have the antibiotics. My little sisters had stayed the night. We had been at Mainly Music and there was like 50 people that go."

Ms Fleming said Grayson was recovering well and on Friday doctors were able to remove his IV.


Meningitis is the inflammation of the lining of the brain or the spinal cord and can be very serious and sometimes fatal.

This time of year there is an increased risk of meningitis and Nelson Marlborough District Health Board medical officer of health Jill Sherwood is encouraging people to be on the look out for it.

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Bacterial meningitis can look like the flu in early stages.

In babies or young children the symptoms can include fever, refusing drinks or feeds, vomiting, drowsiness, becoming floppy, being harder to wake, dislike of bright lights and a rash. The child may also be crying or unsettled.

In adults and older children the symptoms can include fever, headache, vomiting, feeling extremely drowsy, confusion, unconsciousness, stiff neck, muscle and joint pains, dislike of bright lights and a rash. 

- The Marlborough Express


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