Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Parents welcome launch of meningitis website

A Londonderry couple whose infant son was killed by meningitis today welcomed the launch of a new website in the city aimed at highlighting the symptoms of the deadly disease.

Darren and Emma Cowey, from the Waterside, also said they were not surprised at the worrying results of a new survey which found that over half of 3,200 adults could not name three symptoms, despite it being the disease they most feared.

The Derry couple's son Jamie was just nine months old when he passed away in their arms on Halloween night on 2004.

The baby succumbed to the killer virus at the Royal Victoria Hospital less than 24 hours after the first symptoms developed.

Welcoming the new website, launched yesterday by P7 pupils from the Holy Family Primary school in Ballymagroarty, Mrs Cowey said: "To be honest I couldn't have named three symptoms either before this happened. I wish I had known them beforehand because then maybe I would have been able to tell the doctor my concerns.

"I knew of meningitis but it never occurred to me that it would affect me. You always think it won't happen to me but I am proof it can be you.

"I welcome this website because the more people that know about meningitis and are aware of it, the better. If you never have to use that information, that's brilliant, but if you do, maybe having learnt this information will prove very useful."

She added: "It is also great that this website will also help people access information at an early age and carry it with them."

Mrs Cowey, now an ambassador for the Meningitis UK charity, gave birth to a second son, Jack, in January this year and is currently awaiting an appointment for the new vaccine against the disease.

Together with husband Darren she said she feels more could be done to educate the medical profession and local people at community level about meningitis.

Mr Cowey said: "There are usually leaflets and posters in doctors' surgeries but outside of that there is not really enough information. Having the right information is very important with meningitis."

The new website, www.meningitis-learning.org, follows the Department of Health study which also found that 8% of adults surveyed could not name a single symptom of the disease.

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