Updated: Wednesday, 22nd November 2017 @ 5:30pm

Getting vocal about viral meningitis: Stockport student coins slogan to help battle killer disease

Getting vocal about viral meningitis: Stockport student coins slogan to help battle killer disease

| By Charlotte Court

A Stockport student is hoping his design skills will help raise awareness of viral meningitis, a disease he knows well but is still relatively unknown by many.

Ryan McDonagh, 22, has created the slogan ‘Sometimes It’s What You Don’t See’ which he prints on t-shirts and stickers and is teaming up with Meningitis Now to support their #VocalAboutViral awareness week on 5-11 May.

As someone now in his tenth year of recovery following a viral meningitis diagnosis, Mr McDonagh, who was wheelchair bound for six years, knows how important it is that people have an understanding of the disease and what it can cause.

“The idea of my t-shirt campaign is to try to point out that you don’t always start with a rash,” Mr Donagh said. “I want people to know more about the symptoms and that it can cause lasting effects.”

“Originally this design was just a cool idea that had somewhat more meaning than I intended,” he said. “Then I realised I may as well use it as a tool to try to get more people aware.”


CREATIVE MESSAGE: The back of Ryan's special t-shirt

Launched in 2013, Viral Meningitis Awareness Week hopes to improve people’s understanding of the disease and dispel the misconception that the illness is ‘mild’ as it is often described when compared with bacterial meningitis.

Symptoms include fever, cold hands and feet, vomiting, severe headaches and a stiff neck amongst others and Meningitis Now are keen to emphasise that potential suffers must not wait for a rash before seeking medical help.

Mr McDonagh hopes that this awareness week and his involvement in it may prompt people to detect their own symptoms easier and act quicker.

“I want to help inform people about this in an easy way for them to digest rather than scaring them,” Mr McDonagh said. “It is a scary topic but rather than ignoring it, it’s much better to deal with it and understand it.”

A survey conducted my Meningitis Now showed that viral meningitis victims were left with a series of after affects and sufferers often have to take long periods off education and work and can struggle with the day-to-day tasks so many people take for granted.

Mr McDonagh experienced lasting effects from his original diagnosis was left wheelchair bound for six years as a result of it before finally being diagnosed with a condition that was thought to have been caused by the meningitis.

“I was born with mild cerebal palsy and a lot of my physical problems are a combination of things,” Mr McDonagh said. “But the meningitis has obviously affected me in a big way.”

He is quick to point out, however, that he feels incredibly lucky to have achieved all that he has done so far.

“I’ve been very fortunate and have been able to do pretty much everything I’ve ever really wanted,” he said. “It’s just taken a little longer than expected.”

Mr McDonagh is selling his t-shirts for £7 through the Meningitis Now website and Facebook page throughout the whole of the awareness week and the majority of the money made will be donated back to the charity.

“My main goal is to try to make people think rather than meningitis just being a word that most people have no knowledge of,” Mr McDonagh said. “I’m really eager to get the message out there.”  

For more information about viral meningitis, its symptoms and help available, go to: http://www.meningitisnow.org