The British-based Meningitis Trust has released the world's first iPhone app to help people recognize the specific signs and symptoms of the disease.
The Trust is urging all users of iPhones, iPads and iTouches to download the free app, in the hopes that it could help in swift diagnosis and hopefully save lives.
Meningitis is the inflammation of the membraines covering the brain and spinal cord and it causes septicemia, or blood poisoning. It is highly contagious and spread in air droplets via coughing or sneezing, or contact with an infected person.
Meningitis can kill within hours. Even in non-fatal cases there were long-term complications such as brain damage, deafness and loss of limb.
The most common symptoms, over the age of two, are high fever, headache, neck stiffness, nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light. Its symptoms are similar to flu, other viruses and even a hangover. Swift diagnosis and immediate medical intervention is crucial to surviving this often fatal disease. Typical symptoms begin within three to seven days after exposure.
Winter is a peak time for meningitis and those at most risk are encouraged to be armed with information in the battle against the disease. Meningitis can attack anyone but those considered at particular risk are the very young, pre-teens and college students. The common-living environment of most students can be a haven where the meningtis-causing bacteria can thrive.
The Trust received funding from Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline allowing the app to be free of charge. “We don't put a price on a life, so our app is free so that everybody can have access to it,” explained Sue Davis, the chief exectutive of the Meningitis Trust. With this new application “life-saving information is just a finger touch away,” she continued.
Previously the Meningitis Trust had distributed 20 million cards to help people recognize the signs and symptoms of the disease. The Trust devloped the iPhone app in response to the global widespread use of smart phones as a constant stream of information. “The world is changing and so must we,” said Davis. “We have to use all the communications channels available to us.”
The app itself is simple to use with plenty of diagrams and information that can help people know what to look for and especially how to recognize meningitis in infants and toddlers, which can be more difficult. The app gives detailed descriptions and images and allows you to scroll further in-depth to help you easily diagnose meningitis.
Although there is a vaccine available to protect against four strains of meningitits the disease is still life-threatening.
According to the National Meningitis Association (NMA), about 1,500 Americans a year contracted meningitis between 1998 and 2007. Of those, there was an 11 percent mortality rate and 15 percent were adolescents and pre-teens.