I remember that day when a family friend had just landed after their trip to a Sub-Saharan African Country. Their daughter, who was around 13 years old, had developed a sudden high fever with small red rashes. Assuming it as viral fever, they took her to their doctor immediately. Gradually she became sleepy and experienced severe body pain. Soon, her words took the form of babbling and her condition was deteriorating. She was immediately taken to the ICU and was given heavy antibiotics and her spinal fluid was sent for tests.
All I could see was teary-eyed parents, who didn’t have an idea of what had happened. It was a Medical emergency with high fever and rashes.
Well, that was the attack of a disease called “Meningococcal meningitis”, which left her with neurological defects and partial hearing loss after a month.
It panicked me, then a mom of a 2-year-old boy, to the core. Meningococcal meningitis is a fatal bacterial infection, which usually causes swelling and inflammation of the fluid and membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. In case of even a delay of a few hours, it can be tragic for the person who has been infected. It can be confused with the normal flu with a high fever. But this is where we need awareness against the bacterial infection, Meningococcal meningitis. #TogetherAgainstMeningitis
Meningococcal meningitis: Who is at risk?
The most common targets of Meningococcal meningitis are children, who are less than 5 years, teens and adults. The fatality rate is 50% if the infection remains untreated immediately.1 The chances of contracting can increase if:
- You have compromised Immune System
- If you’re traveling to endemic regions of Africa
- Participating in mass community gatherings
This meningitis affects humans only and is transmittable via respiratory droplets, coughing and being in close contact with an infected person for a long time. Hence, always ensure hygienic practices and teach kids right hygiene standards.
Meningococcal meningitis vaccination: The best solution for this deadly disease
Meningococcal meningitis is severe and can cause serious brain complications. Vaccination is the best choice today for prevention.
There are many different groups of bacteria that can cause meningococcal meningitis. But the good news is that five of the most common bacterial types causing meningitis can be prevented via a vaccine. And the good news is, Meningococcal conjugate vaccine is an approved vaccine and can be administered from 9 months to 55 years. When children enter their adolescence growth spurt, they are more prone to infections. All children must get vaccinated at the age of 11-12 years and then get the booster dose at around 16 years.
*Usually the vaccines are safe, but one can have some mild reaction, as slight fever and redness, which get better within 1-2 days.
Apart from that, any adult can be at the risk of being infected, more so if they travel frequently. Hence, it is always recommended to discuss with your doctor and get vaccinated.
In India, the vaccine against Meningococcal is yet not a mandatory vaccine in the vaccination schedule. But looking at many outbreaks, and increased infection in kids less than 5 years, the Meningococcal conjugate vaccine should be given. It’s time for you to discuss Meningococcal meningitis with your pediatrician and get your kids vaccinated.
Give them the gift of a happy disease-free life they need!
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 means the information often may change when more research knowledge is available. Mommyinme or the authors should be in no way held responsible in that case.