A meningococcal awareness program targeting children is now reaching 350 schools and early learning centres across WA, according to Barry Young of the Amanda Young Foundation.
Mr Young, who visited Gosnells preprimary last week, said the annual program was rolled out about four years ago as a way to help children learn about the role good hygiene plays in staying healthy.
“It’s been very well received because it’s consistent with the policies that preprimaries and early learning centres already have,” he said.
“It’s just so essential that at this early stage of the game children learn basic hygiene messages because it’s not only meningococcal, there are other orally transmitted diseases like hepatitis and glandular fever.
“The fact that we provide them with a nice lesson and storybook with some colouring in and activities means it’s a fun learning program done in a non-threatening way even though it’s a nasty disease.”
Mr Young said some of the message children learned included covering their mouths when coughing, the importance of washing their hands and not to share drinks.
“Hopefully children are learning these messages at home as well and if they’re not well then they need to,” he said.
“If they are the program is reinforcing what mum and dad are telling them.”
Meningococcal is a rare but deadly bacterial infection that is spread through respiratory droplets.
While the majority of victims will make a full recovery about 20 per cent will be left with a permanent disability and about 10 per cent will die, with death sometimes taking as little as 24 hours.
Symptoms for meningococcal septicaemia can include fatigue, shivering, cold hands or feet, nausea, fever, severe pain in arms, legs, joints or stomach and a purple rash.
Symptoms for meningococcal meningitis can include a severe headache, sensitivity to light, a painful neck, nausea and fatigue.
For more information visit amandayoungfoundation.org.au.