Bug kills footballer in three hours

A WOMAN has told of her heartache after meningitis killed her son in less than three hours.

A WOMAN has told of her heartache after meningitis killed her son in less than three hours.

James Thacker, 25, played a full 90 minutes for Garboldisham Football Club on the day he died before heading home for a roast dinner.

The events of that day almost two years ago remain fresh in Jennifer Thacker's memory and she is now speaking out in support of Meningitis UK's winter campaign to raise awareness of the deadly disease and its symptoms.

Mrs Thacker, of Diss, said: “James had cheese on toast before he went to bed so we didn't suspect anything was wrong. He had a bit of a cold coming on but that didn't concern us given that it was January and freezing outside.

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“Then, a few hours later, James woke me up saying he was shivery and didn't feel very well. I knew something was wrong. As he'd had his spleen taken out four years earlier I wasn't going to take any risks so called out a paramedic.

“He diagnosed a winter flu vomiting bug and went away. I had to call him back 90 minutes later because James got up and started screaming that he couldn't see anything. He had already gone blind. They took him to hospital and we never saw him alive again.”

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The tell-tale rash appeared in the ambulance en route to hospital, during which his heart stopped twice.

Doctors were unable to save his life as the dangerous meningococcal septicaemia form of the disease took hold.

Mrs Thacker added: “I would definitely urge mother's to trust their instincts if they feel something's seriously wrong, especially at this time of the year when the symptoms are easily confused with flu and hangovers.”

Steve Dayman, who founded Meningitis UK after his son Spencer died from the disease, said: “We're grateful to Jennifer and her husband Keith for supporting Meningitis UK and our winter campaign.

“Unfortunately James' sudden death highlights what a devastating disease meningitis is and how quickly it can take hold. Knowing the symptoms, particularly at this time of the year, and getting swift treatment can mean the difference between life and death.”

The full range of symptoms includes fever, vomiting, headache, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights, drowsiness, difficulty in supporting own weight and a rash that does not fade when pressure is applied.

Not everyone gets all the symptoms, and they can appear in any order. As the disease can kill within hours, swift treatment is vital.

Last year Meningitis UK launched its Search 4 a Vaccine Campaign to help raise £7m to fund vital research into developing a vaccine against Meningitis B - the most common form of meningitis in the UK.

For a free symptoms information pack or more information call 0117 373 7373 or visit www.meningitisUK.org .

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