Jazzy was three when she contracted a disease that threatened her life.

Thanks to our brand partner, KnowMeningococcal

At just five years old, Jazmyn is the kid who does everything with energy. The one who is forever full of beans.

She’s fun, her mother Sarah notes. Headstrong, too.

But when she was three-and-a-half, on any other average Tuesday night, she woke with a brutally high temperature. Her body was sore. The family, who had been struggling with the flu in the weeks before, thought it made sense. She was one of the last in the family to catch the bug, perhaps this was it.

Fast forward a few hours, and her symptoms weren’t so familiar anymore.

It was August 25, 2015, and from here out on out, not much would be very familiar.

“In the morning, she was screaming in agony whenever I moved her leg,” Sarah told Mamamia, recounting the events.

“I initially thought ‘we never had any of that’ [with the flu] and I did notice a little bit of a rash, but I put that down to heat. It didn’t look strange to me.”

"She was screaming in agony whenever I moved her leg." Image: Supplied.

Sarah was concerned about how "agitated" little Jazmyn was, and how sore her leg appeared. They went straight to the doctor.

"She didn't want anyone touching her - I couldn't even move a blanket across her legs," Sarah recalled.

The doctor was asking a lot of questions. He had noticed a tiny spot on her chest - small enough only for a doctor to notice - and was keen to know how long it had been there for.

"She is rough and she doesn't do anything by halves. To me, it looked like a little blood blister, that could have come from playing rough with her sisters.

"But the doctor kept saying she would be more comfortable at the hospital, though he didn't elaborate on exactly what he was thinking," Sarah said.

At the hospital, at about 1pm, Jazmyn suffered a seizure. Her temperature had been too high for too long.

The hospital's doctor, who - unbeknown to Sarah - had been on the phone to the Adelaide Women's and Children's Hospital all morning while sending them updated photos of the tiny spot on Jazmyn's chest, finally told her what he was thinking.


It was meningococcal.

"When he told me, I was so surprised. She was immunised and she was up to date with her immunisations," Sarah said. "They tell you [the chance of catching meningococcal] is not severe, but you know you can catch it. But no, actually, there are other strains. I didn't know about any other strains."

LEFT: Jazzy with the first dot on her chest, around 9.30am. RIGHT: Jazzy's legs by 1.30pm. Images: Supplied.

Sarah wasn't, and isn't, alone.

In a survey of 1000 parents, GSK - in their national awareness campaign #KnowMeningococcal -  found 46 per cent of parents did not know routine childhood vaccinations did not cover all strains of meningococcal disease.

"Around the time Jazmyn got sick, all the other parents I spoke to didn't know there was more than one strain of the disease," Sarah told us.

"If [we were] aware, we would have done it straight it away."

Jazmyn started treatment almost immediately.

"They got onto it so quickly and she responded to the medication straight away. She has quite a few skin grafts to her leg but no amputation, though she's still in pain daily," Sarah explained. "She can get a lot of headaches, a lot of leg pain and she has chronic fatigue so she can't even go to school full time."

Sarah said that they've never hid the disease from Jazmyn, conscious of her growing up knowing how well she fought it, and how strong that inherently makes her.

"She knows it made her really sick. She will often say, 'I want beautiful legs like my sisters'. But we will tell her they are beautiful, because you beat [the disease] and now you have the scars to show it. You beat it," Sarah said.

"If anything, she's a bit more out there and go, go, go than before." Image: ABC.

"She's a bit more rough and tumble now. Her personality has changed a bit...if anything, she's a bit more out there and go, go, go than before.

"Even when she was in ICU, her stats indicated she should be unconscious, but she was too busy yelling at everyone for a water bottle."


Now that Jazzy is relatively well, Sarah is making sure other parents are fully aware of what their children are covered for through routine child vaccinations.

"While it is a rare disease...I want parents to know their kids may not be covered for all the strains and to speak to the local GP about how they can be. If you suspect something, keep persisting, time is of the essence. If goes untreated, the end result can be life-changing or fatal. It needs to be treated quickly," she said.

"Yes, Jazmyn's been through so much, but there are still people worse off. We started advocating quite early, because we were quite lucky - we don't have all the extra doctor's appointment's others may have."

As a family, it's taught them a lot. But mainly, she says, how "lucky" they are.

"It's taught me about about the importance of family, a great support network and that you can't take anything for granted.

"On that Tuesday, our life was perfect. You never know what's going to happen."

Find out more about #KnowMeningococcal here.

Have you been through any serious scares with your child? Share with us below.

This content was created with thanks to our brand partner GSK.

Parents, make sure to ask your GP about meningococcal disease, and what vaccines your child can get to protect them.

For further information, visit KnowMeningococcal.