The Meningitis Centre of Australia is part of the Telethon Kids Institute and is striving to eliminate meningitis in Australia by lobbying for vaccines and educating the community to be aware of the signs and symptoms. The Centre also provides support for families affected by the disease.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the fluid and membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord.
There are three main types of meningitis infection
KNOW THE SYMPTOMS!!!!
In August 2013 Australia became the first country in the world to approve the meningococcal B vaccine for widespread use. However while it is available via prescription through a doctor is is still too expensive for most people. The Meningitis Centre Australia is continuing to lobby the federal government to put it on the National Immunisation Program so that it is FREE for everybody.
Please sign our petition for the Federal Government to allocate funding for this life saving vaccine!
In 2013, 105 people were treated for Meningococcal B in Australia. If not treated promptly it can lead to permanent disability or death in 24 hours. EVERY SECOND COUNTS!
14 Jan 2015
Incredible story of man who wakes after being frozen in his body for 12 years
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3 Dec 2014
Child in the Hunter Region in New South Wales admitted to hospital with Men B
read more >
3 Dec 2014
Pfizer acquires Baxter vaccine business for $635m
read more >
FOR 12 years, Martin Pistorius was trapped in a vegetative state, unable to move or talk.
Doctors told his parents he had the brain function of a three-month-old baby and to care for him until he died.
Then one day he woke up, shocking everyone with his jaw-dropping tale. His journey is recounted in the incredible memoir, Ghost Boy and he sat down with America’s National Public Radio this week to talk about it..
In January 1988, Pistorius, then aged 12 and living in South Africa, left school early complaining of a sore throat.
In the following months, his body weakened as his mind failed. His muscles wasted and hands and feet curled like claws before he fell into a coma.
The young boy was diagnosed with Cryptococci meningitis and tuberculosis of the brain, but doctors weren’t really sure what was wrong with him.
“As a result of the brain infections, I ended up in a vegetative state — in other words, I was unable to react or respond to anything or to communicate,” Pistorius, 39, told Mail Online.
“At the end of that year, the doctors apparently told my parents they could do no more for me and to take me home to die, which is essentially what happened.”
His parents, Rodney and Joan Pistorius, clung to the hope their son would recover and lovingly cared for him.
Rodney Pistorius would rise at 5am each morning to dress the boy and take him to a special care centre. In the evenings, he would “bathe him, feed him, put him in bed, set my alarm for two hours so that I’d wake up to turn him so that he didn’t get bedsores.”
But several years into his frozen state, Pistorius began to wake up.
He could see and hear everything around him, but couldn’t move or speak. He said his body felt distant, “as if encased in concrete”, and he couldn’t control it.
While the teen was able to make small movements, his caregivers didn’t notice.
“Everyone was so used to me not being there that they didn’t notice when I began to be present again. The stark reality hit me that I was going to spend the rest of my life like that — totally alone,” he recently told NPR. “You don’t really think about anything. You simply exist. It’s a very dark place to find yourself because, in a sense, you are allowing yourself to vanish.”
He was aware of Nelson Mandela becoming president of South Africa in 1994 and the shocking death of Princess Diana in 1997.
He was also painfully aware that his family’s life went on without him.
“I have a younger brother and a sister, and they and my parents would go on holidays without me, which was extremely difficult. The worst part was that I had a perpetual fear they’d have a car accident and die, and would never come to fetch me,” Pistorius told MailOnline.
“I never felt angry with my parents as I knew they loved me and they did the best they could. But I felt furious about the situation. There were many times when I cried inside. I reached a point where I essentially gave up.”
Being “aware of everything” but unable to communicate left Pistorius in a dark place. He recalled a time his mother said to him, “I hope you die.”
“I know that’s a horrible thing to say. I just wanted some sort of relief,” Joan Pistorius said later.
Pistorius said he gradually learned to understand his mother’s desperation and forgave her.
Trapped with his thoughts, Pistorius taught himself to “disengage” from the voices in his head. However, there were some things he couldn’t ignore.
“I cannot even express to you how much I hated Barney,” Pistorius told NPR about the children’s television program that used to play on a loop in his room.
But one day, in an incredible twist of fate, Pistorius’ aromatherapist, Virna van der Walt, picked up on his subtle “language” — virtually imperceptible smiles, gazes and nods he used to indicate he was paying attention. He was about 25.
“Happiness surged through me. I was Muhammad Ali, John McEnroe, Fred Trueman. Crowds roared their approval as I took a lap of honour,” Pistorius said of the moment his therapist acknowledged his consciousness.
At her request, Pistorius’ parents sent him to the Centre For Augmentative And Alternative Communication at the University of Pretoria where tests confirmed he was aware and could respond to statements.
His parents bought him a computer with communication software. After years of therapy and intense computer-based exercises, he was able to use a computer to write messages and operate a synthetic voice. He taught himself to read and write.
In 2003, Pistorius got a paid job at the health centre, working one day a week.
“At every turn my eyes opened in wonder as I crashed into new experience: seeing a man with brightly coloured hair like parrot feathers running down the centre of his head; tasting a cloud of melting sugar called candy floss; feeling the warm pleasure that comes with going shopping for the first time to buy Christmas presents for my family; or the sharp surprise of seeing women in short skirts,” he said.
Starving for information, Pistorius learned how to build websites and eventually graduated from university.
But he felt like something was missing: love.
When he met Joanna in 2008, he wondered if she would be “indifferent” like the other women he’d encountered.
Pistorius’ sister had moved to England where she met Joanna, a social worker. She introduced Joanna to her brother in a family web chat.
The pair hit it off, emailing each other regularly before finally meeting in person.
“I work with the disabled in my career, so it isn’t something I am wary of, and I just knew — it’s hard to explain — that Martin was very special. I’d had relationships before, but he struck me as a very unusual and fascinating man. Straight away, I saw past his disability,” Joanna told MailOnline.
“It makes me angry when people refer to me as his ‘carer’. I’m not his carer. I am his wife. His mind is incredible, and I am learning from him all the time.”
Pistorius proposed to Joanna in a hot-air balloon in December 2008 before they wed in June 2009.
The couple now live in England where Pistorius works as a web designer.
“It was she (Joanna) who has taught me to understand the true meaning of the Bible passage we were having read at the service: ‘There are three things that will endure — faith, hope and love — and the greatest of these is love’,” Pistorius said.
“My life has encompassed all three and I know the greatest of all is indeed love, in all its forms. I’d experienced it as a boy and man, as a son, brother, grandson and friend, I’d seen it between others and I know it could sustain us through the darkest of times. Now it was lifting me closer to the sun than I ever thought I would fly.”
Pistorius has published a memoir about his life, Ghost Boy: My Escape From a Life Locked Inside My Own Body.
A child has been admitted to a Hunter region hospital, suffering meningococcal disease.
The child is in a stable condition.
It brings to 10 the number of confirmed cases of the potentially deadly disease in the Hunter New England Health region so far this year.
The number of cases is in line with figures from previous years, with 11 cases in 2013, nine in 2012 and 15 in 2011.
Hunter New England Health says there are no links between this case and any others, and has stressed that early detection and treatment usually results in a complete recovery.
Public Health physician Tony Merritt says up to 10 per cent of patients with invasive meningococcal disease in Australia die as a result of the infection.
Dr Merritt said the first symptoms of meningococcal disease may include pain in the legs, cold hands and feet and abnormal skin colour.
"Later symptoms may include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, dislike of bright lights, nausea and vomiting, a rash of reddish-purple spots or bruises and drowsiness," he said.
"Babies with the infection can be irritable, not feed properly and have an abnormal cry."
Dr Merritt said the two main strains of meningococcal disease in Australia are the B and C strains.
"The National Immunisation Program includes a vaccine for the meningococcal C strain but not for the B strain of the disease.
"This means that young people who have had the meningococcal C vaccine should still be on the look out for symptoms.
"The number of cases of this rare disease has been falling over the past 10 years due in part to the success of the meningococcal C vaccination program," Dr Merritt said
Pfizer has completed the acquisition of two commercially marketed vaccines and portion of related production facilities from Baxter International for $635m.
Under the deal, Pfizer acquired a portion of Baxter's facility in Orth, Austria, which manufactures meningitis vaccine, NeisVac-C as well as the encephalitis vaccine, FSME-IMMUN/TicoVac.
NeisVac-C is a vaccine which helps protect against meningitis caused by group C meningococcal meningitis (MenC), while FSME-IMMUN helps protect against tick-borne encephalitis (TBE), an infection of the brain transmitted by the bite of ticks infected with the TBE-virus.
Pfizer Vaccines president and general manager Susan Silbermann said: "NeisVac-C and FSME-IMMUN/Ticovac are a strong fit with our vaccines business and this acquisition adds value, scale and depth to our existing portfolio of innovative vaccines.
"These best-in-class products enable us to reach a broader population with vaccines that prevent infections from serious and often fatal diseases."
Kirkland & Ellis is the legal advisor and Credit Suisse Securities (USA) served as the financial advisor for Pfizer in the transaction.
The 5th Asian Vaccine Conference (ASVAC 2015), is taking place in Vietnam from 11 to 14 June 2015. It's designed for healthcare and medical professionals to share their knowledge, strategies and experience to tackle the challenge of introducing new vaccines and scaling up existing vaccines in National Immunisation Programmes. Themed “Introducing More Vaccines and Reaching Everyone”.
ASVAC 2015 will feature important presentations by a wide range of expert speakers and opinion leaders from around the world with the common objective of engaging stakeholders to expand and improve immunization coverage in the region.
For more information please visit www.asvac2015.com.
Designed for healthcare and medical professionals to share their knowledge, strategies and experience, the 5th Asian Vaccine Conference (ASVAC 2015), is taking place in Vietnam from 11 to 14 June 2015.