Meningococcal Australia, together with celebrated photographer and global advocate for children, Anne Geddes, have unveiled the first set of images to launch the global ‘Protecting Our Tomorrows: Portraits of Meningococcal Disease’ campaign in Australia.
Images of three inspirational Australian survivors who were struck down with the devastating disease were captured in Sydney last month during the first photo shoot of the global campaign. The campaign will see Anne partner with meningococcal disease support groups from around the world, photographing 10–15 families across three continents who have experienced the impact of meningococcal disease.
Through a series of emotive and inspirational photographs, the campaign aims to educate parents about the threat of meningococcal disease and the importance of prevention, whilst celebrating survivors and honouring those who have lost their lives to the disease. The global campaign, which is supported by Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, will culminate in the launch of an eBook of the full image collection for World Meningitis Day on April 24, 2014.
Meningococcal disease is a sudden and severe illness that can lead to death in less than 24 hours.2,3 Around eight per cent of those who contract meningococcal disease will not survive4 and 10–20 per cent of survivors are left with permanent disabilities5 that range from learning difficulties, sight or hearing problems, loss of fingers, toes and limbs, and scarring from skin grafts.
Anne Geddes hopes the campaign will inspire parents to do what they can to protect their children against this terrible disease. “You just need to look at one of these children and you’ll understand the impact of this devastating disease. I’ve never met a parent who doesn’t want to protect their child and as a mum, it really would be your worst nightmare to see your child go through such an ordeal. We need to empower parents to understand meningococcal disease and to know their options to help protect their children.”
“It is my goal that these images will capture the inspiration and strength of these survivors, and at the same time I want their own parents to look at the images and think their children have never looked so beautiful,” Anne said.
The launch of the campaign coincides with the release of a new survey of 1,000 Australian parents that shows over half do not understand the disease and almost four out of five do not feel confident in identifying the signs and symptoms; yet for the majority it is the most concerning vaccine preventable childhood disease.
Kirsten Baker, spokesperson for Meningococcal Australia, said the survey strongly reinforces the need to increase awareness amongst parents and highlights the important role of this campaign. “By depicting the courage and beauty of these survivors through Anne’s lens we hope the images will be the catalyst for parents to ensure they are aware of the signs and symptoms, check their child’s vaccinations are up to date and know what to do should they suspect meningococcal disease.”
“The rapid progression, seemingly innocuous early symptoms, together with the fact that currently available vaccines do not cover all strains of the disease, means knowledge and understanding are key in protecting our children,” said Kirsten.
About meningococcal disease
- Meningococcal disease is a sudden and severe illness that can lead to death in less than 24 hours. It can present as meningitis (an infection of the membrane around the brain and spine), septicaemia (blood poisoning), or a combination of both.2,3
- Meningococcal disease is transmitted by respiratory droplets and is spread by prolonged or close contact. Good hygiene is important in minimising the likelihood of spreading the disease. This includes washing hands, avoiding the sharing of food and drinks, turning away to cough / sneeze and disposing of tissues in the bin after use.
- The signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease often resemble the flu which means it can be easily misdiagnosed in its early stages, even by experienced healthcare professionals.6
- Symptoms can vary considerably and may include headache, fever, fatigue or drowsiness, a stiff or painful neck, sensitivity to light and vomiting or shivering, cold hands and feet, muscle or joint pain, or a change in skin colour.5,7 A rash may also develop which can start off as a spot, blister or pinpricks and later turn into purple bruise-like blotches.7
- If you are in any way concerned that you or someone you know is presenting with symptoms consistent with meningococcal disease, seek medical advice from your doctor or hospital immediately.
Watch this heartwarming behind the scenes video of Anne Geddes photographing meningococcal survivor Bernadette.
For more information about the disease, signs and symptoms and Meningococcal Australia’s work visit www.meningococcal.org.au or www.facebook.com/MeningococcalAustralia