A MUM today credited health visitors with saving her son’s life after he was struck down with potentially-deadly meningitis.
Little Enzo Youngman was just three months old when he was found to have the disease, said mum Sarah, of Station Road, Bawtry.
Doctors saved Enzo with antibiotics - but only after his health visitor had raised concerns he may be ill.
Today, Sarah urged other parents to be vigilant for the illness, which charities are warning most commonly occurs at this time of the year.
She said: “Enzo was three weeks old at the time he had the disease.
“I went to get him weighed and the health visitor said he didn’t look well. He was hot, but we had been to a party, and I thought it may be because of that.”
She arranged for Enzo to see a doctor, and was referred to Doncaster Royal Infirmary.
Medics performed tests - and then put Enzo on a high dependency ward while they treated him with antibiotics.
“The health visitor could have saved his life,” said Sarah. “She was fantastic. It was only through her noticing there was something wrong that he went to the Doncaster Royal Infirmary when he did.
“Looking back, he had been crying all the time, but I had put that down to him being a newborn baby wanting attention.
“When we found out he had meningitis I was just shocked - it didn’t seem to sink in.
“He got really cold on the first night in hospital and they wrapped him up to keep him warm. It was awful to see him looking like that and so tiny. It was heartbreaking not knowing if he would survive.”
Enzo remained on antibiotics for a year and, now aged five, he has started school.
But he is still living the with the effects of the disease, which mum Sarah says has had an effect on his behaviour.
He has behavioural problems and has weakness in his hands which makes it difficult for him to control a pencil and write, both thought to be as a result of his illness as a small baby.
Since then, he has received support from the charity Meningitis Trust, which has provided a play therapist to help with his concentration, and a learning support assistant at school.
Sarah is backing the charity’s campaign to warn parents of the prevalence of the disease at this time of year.
The risk of meningitis increases during the colder months as people spend more time indoors, closer to others, meaning germs are more easily spread. And fighting common infections like colds and flu weakens immune systems, leaving them more vulnerable to the disease.
Every year, around 2,500 cases of meningitis are reported in the UK - leaving 10 per cent of sufferers dead and 15 per cent of survivors with severe after-effects such as brain damage, loss of hearing and sight and, where septicaemia has occurred, loss of limbs and scarring.
Symptoms of meningitis can include fever with cold hands and feet, vomiting, headache, stiff neck, dislike of bright light, joint or muscle pain, pale blotchy skin, drowsiness, confusion, convulsions and, in babies, a dislike of being handled, an unusual cry, rapid breathing and a bulging fontanelle.
Both adults and children may also have a rash that does not fade under pressure. Symptoms can appear in any order and some may not appear at all. If concerned, urgent medical attention should be sought.
Visit www.meningitis-symptoms.co.uk for more information, or call the Meningitis Trust free, any time of the day or night, on 0800 028 18 28 and request the charity’s free credit card-sized symptoms card. Download its free symptoms app at www.meningitisapp.co.uk