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Meningitis Now’s analysis shows cases in England of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) increased from 80 in 2020-21 to 205 in the 12 months to June 2022. The UK Health Security Agency recorded 28 cases in July to September 2021, 65 in October to December 2021, 57 in January to March 2022 and 55 in April to June 2022, four quarterly reports show.
In the most recent report, it noted the 55 cases of IMD reported were “triple the number of cases in the equivalent period in 2021, when 17 cases were reported and double the 29 cases reported in 2020”.
The UKHSA added: “However, IMD cases in April and June 2022 were 55 per cent lower than in the same, pre-pandemic, period in 2019 when 122 cases were reported.”
The UKHSA is a Government agency responsible for protecting people from health threats including infectious diseases.
Meningitis Now said the UKHSA data also shows that 179 of the cases were caused by MenB (meningococcal group B) with 84 of these cases occurring in those aged between 15 and 24.
The figures indicate nearly a third of MenB cases occurred in children under five and that 32 per cent of MenB cases affected adults, it said.
Dr Tom Nutt, the charity’s chief executive, said: “For much of this time the country was still in lockdown when many of us were isolating or practising social distancing. As these restrictions eased, meningitis cases have in turn risen from what had been an historic low.”
He added: “We all need to remain aware of the signs and symptoms of meningitis so that people know to act quickly and seek urgent medical help to save lives.”
Dr Shamez Ladhani, consultant epidemiologist at UKHSA, said: “The restrictions introduced during the pandemic and social distancing measures impacted the spread of many infections.
“The risk of meningococcal disease continues to be very low. We strongly people to ensure they are aware of the symptoms.”
The NHS website says symptoms of meningitis and sepsis include a high temperature, cold hands and feet, vomiting, confusion, breathing quickly, mottled or blotchy skin, a dislike of bright lights and seizures.
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