A MUM whose daughter nearly died after contracting meningitis has welcomed the development of a vaccine which could prevent others from being struck down by the illness.
Little Rhianna (5), who lives in Torrance with mum Evelyn Curl and brother Hudson (3), was left fighting for her life after being diagnosed with Group B meningococcal meningitis when she was just six months old - days before her first Christmas.
When the tot fell ill Evelyn saw three separate doctors who all dismissed her concerns, saying that tiny Rhianna was simply suffering from an ear infection or virus.
But the worried mum insisted something was seriously wrong with her daughter and told the doctors to carry out a painful lumbar puncture.
She said: “The doctor said we were being overprotective, but she had all the symptoms other than the rash - which only comes on after it gets into the blood.
“She had an aversion to light, was constantly vomiting and couldn’t move without crying.
“They had to have three attempts at the lumbar puncture because she was so small.
“Then the spinal fluid came out cloudy which means there’s bacteria in it.
“It means something is seriously wrong - usually meningitis.”
Rhianna was immediately put onto antibiotics while her spinal fluid was tested.
The next morning, Evelyn got the news she was dreading.
She explained: “When I was told I just collapsed - I actually hit the deck. I thought it was a death sentence.
“For the first four days she couldn’t even cry because she had so little energy and her head was so swollen she was millimetres away from having a hole drilled in her skull to release the pressure.
“On the fifth day she started to cry, which was a sign she was recovering.”
Little Rhianna continued to beat the odds to be home after just 11 days, following a successful course of antibiotics, and made a full recovery.
Stories like Rhianna’s could soon be a thing of the past, however, after the ‘Bexsero’ vaccine was licenced by the European Commission.
If the British Government choose to implement the vaccine, which protects against the most common strains of the illness, it could mean an end to almost 2,000 cases of potentially-fatal meningitis each year in the UK.
Evelyn said: “The licensing of this vaccine is a fantastic development for children and parents.
“Had this been around when my daughter was little then it might have saved her from suffering this terrible illness.”
She added: “Just remember though, meningitis could still strike those who have not been vaccinated and vaccines still won’t cover all the strains out there.
“So we must stay vigilant and keep on spreading the word about the signs and symptoms of meningitis.”
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