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Tuesday 15 October 2019

Why Suffer, When You Can Be Safe? #TogetherAgainstMeningitis

We live in an era where we are subject to numerous health risks due to modern lifestyle, air/soil/water pollution besides the already existing diseases in the environment. Doesn’t it make sense therefore to avail of safe and preventive measures such as vaccines that modern science offers us, to safeguard ourselves from potentially life-threatening and debilitating diseases?
I recently came across some chat forums on twitter discussing one such disease: Meningococcal Meningitis, a highly unpredictable and life-threatening disease that can be safely prevented with the aid of vaccines.

What is Meningococcal Meningitis?

Invasive Meningococcal Disease (IMD) is a rare but potentially devastating bacterial infection caused by Neisseria meningitis.1 It commonly present as an infection of the brain (meningitis) and/or infection of the blood (septicemia or blood poisoning).1 One in 10 people who develop the disease can die from it in as little as 24 hours while 10-20% of survivors suffer from serious complications such as amputation, scars, deafness or brain damage. 2, 3

How is it caused?

Around 10% of the population carries meningococcal bacteria in the back of their throats at any given time (carrier). Occasionally the bacteria defeat the body’s defenses and cause infection. Meningococcal disease is spread from person to person through respiratory droplets (e.g. coughing, sneezing, kissing).4

Who is at risk from Meningococcal Meningitis?

Children below 5 years of age, adolescents and young adults (15-19 years) with the highest carrier rate of the bacteria are at most risk. Increased risk factors include living in community settings, participating in mass gatherings. Basically, it can affect anyone, anywhere in the world, even healthy individuals without identifiable risk factors.5

What are the symptoms?

The early symptoms can be misleading as they are flu-like in nature (e.g. irritability, fever, loss of appetite) 6 and make diagnosis difficult.7 Signs of meningococcal meningitis include fever, headache, stiff neck, vomiting, sensitivity to light, confusion etc.6 However it is important to react as the disease can lead to death within 24 hours of onset.7, 8 Diagnosis involves testing samples of blood and cerebrospinal fluid for the Neisseria meningitis bacteria.7

Can Meningococcal Meningitis be prevented?

Yes! Vaccines can be given to infants as young as 9 months and works as the missing link for comprehensive protection against acute bacterial meningitis!11 Vaccines available in India can prevent four different types of bacterial serogroups that cause meningococcal meningitis.

Should you get Meningococcal Meningitis vaccination?

Armed with all this information, I am ready to take a stand against this dreadful disease. I plan to visit my doctor along with my teen son, discuss this life-saving vaccine and avail immunization at the earliest.

How about you? I strongly suggest that all parents get more information on meningococcal meningitis and how to prevent it by having a talk with their doctors. A simple timely vaccine can spare your family from this devastating disease.

It is after all, always better to be safe than sorry

Join the movement against Meningococcal Meningitis today!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the blog content are independent and unbiased views solely of the blogger. This is a part of public awareness initiative on meningitis supported by Sanofi Pasteur India. Sanofi Pasteur bears no responsibility for the content of the blog. One should consult their healthcare provider for any health-related information. This article is meant to help create awareness and spread knowledge. Any decision regarding your health and child's health should be done after consultation with your doctor. While all efforts are made to keep articles updated, the speed of research in these fields mean the information often may change when more research knowledge is available. Relax-N-Rave or the authors should be in no way held responsible in that case.

1. Meningitis Research Foundation. What are meningitis and septicemia
2. CDC Meningococcal disease: Recommended vaccines
3. Meningitis now. After-effects of septicemia
4. Meningitis now. What is meningitis, types and causes
5. Martinon-Torres, F. Deciphering the burden of Meningococcal Disease: Conventional and Under-recognized Elements. Journal of Adolescent Health 59. Volume 59, Issue 1, March 2016. Pages 12-20.
6. CDC. Meningococcal disease-Signs and Symptoms
7. CDC. Meningococcal disease – Diagnosis, Treatment, and Complications
8. Branco, R., Amoretti, C. and Tasker, R. Meningococcal disease and meningitis. Jornal de Pediatria. Volume 83, Issue 7, 2011. Pages 46-53
9. CDC. Meningococcal Disease – Prevention.
10. WHO. Meningococcal meningitis.