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5 Important Things to Know About Meningococcal Meningitis

Meningococcal meningitis is a serious illness that infects the thin lining that encircles the spinal cord and brain. It could also affect the bloodstream (bacteremia or septicemia). It is a bacterial form of meningitis that spreads through transmission of respiratory droplets caused by coughing, sneezing, spiting, and kissing.  The illness can only affect humans as no animal has been reported to have the condition. The bacteria can be carried through the throat in certain situations.

The Epidemic                          

Back in early 2010, there were massive campaigns for preventive immunisation. Prior to this, the World Health Organization estimated that 80-85{1973852c3d03fa9c7b89cf4e32c90950349d2a7529a1646edaa4b9e79bec0c07} of meningitis cases were Group A meningococcus. Nearly 4 years later in 2014, 19 African countries reported 11,908 alleged cases of the same disease with 1,146 deaths.Today, vaccines have become readily available to control the spread of the disease.

In general, this disease overwhelms the immune system and weakens the body’s defences, sometimes with a fatal result. It is categorised as a contagious disease, and those who frequently visit other countries may be at higher risk. To raise awareness, we round up five main things that you should learn about the sickness right away.

  1. It can cause death when incorrectly diagnosed. Do not treat this condition lightly. It is true that meningococcal meningitis is highly treatable.However, if the right treatment is not properly administered or if it’s provided too late, the patient might die in hours of acquiring the disease. According to WHO, 5-10{1973852c3d03fa9c7b89cf4e32c90950349d2a7529a1646edaa4b9e79bec0c07} of the patients who got diagnosed early and were provided with initial treatment still died. There really is no direct way of telling who could survive since there are plenty of factors that affect the circumstances. The best defence against this illness is to take precautions in efforts to stay healthy as much as possible and be aware of the symptoms so you can get medical treatment if necessary.
  1. It is present in all countries. Almost all nations have reported cases of meningococcal meningitis in their own borders. However, type A meningococcal disease is usually prevalent in the dry season. Others, including serogroups C, X, and W are also found but the type A is the most common. The illness occurs specifically in the savannah areas, which extends from Mali to Ethiopia. This stretch is also called the “meningitis belt” due to the repetitive epidemics that frequent in these places. Countries and continents, including South Africa and parts of Asia (India, Nepal, etc.) have reported cases of the disease as well.
  1. It is a common threat to travellers. Indeed it is a threat to travellers but because of the available vaccines worldwide, it becomes less alarming. For groups that intend to travel or temporarily live in areas that are affected by the types A, C, W135 or Y, vaccinations are highly recommended. People who also frequently attend huge gatherings and pilgrims need to take extra good care of their health. For travellers, Conjugate ACYW135 vaccine (Menactra/ Menveo/ Nimenrix) (4vMenCV) is the standard vaccine. There are also some advised dosages and schedules per age group. Check with Travelvax for more information on travellers’ vaccines.
  1. It has a variety of symptoms. Generally, a person who’s suffering from meningococcal meningitis feelsgenerally unwell. They are also drowsy and have a difficult time staying awake or waking up. Joint pain and physical discomfort are also signs. Usual symptoms of this illness is nausea and vomiting. The person infected could also experience sudden fever, intense headache, and stiffness of the neck. Some patients are photophobic – they become sensitive to the light or brightness. Others have an altered mental stature or are put into states of confusion. Rashes in various parts of the body could also appear in the later stages of this sickness.
  1. It can be treated. We mentioned earlier that there is a vaccine available for this type of disease. Nevertheless, antibiotics are also known to treat this illness. WHO said that a range of antibiotics are available and can cure the bacterial infection. These antibiotics include ceftriaxone, ampicillin, penicillin, and chloramphenicol. Meningococcal meningitis can be fatal – that’s why it should be treated as an emergency. A person who’s suffering the symptoms should be admitted to a hospital but isolation is not necessary. As soon as antibiotics are available, it should be given to the infected person immediately.

This disease happens in little clusters throughout the world. The danger lies in being exposed to the very micro organism that causes it. Adults and kids who have a recent infection in the upper respiratory tract should also take better caution. Health organisations continue to promote various strategies to prepare people, prevent the disease, and treat the illness. Everyone, especially travellers, should be aware of this condition. Be sure not to take any symptoms stated lightly. As much as possible, consult your local physician whenever you feel ill and disoriented.

The estimated incubation period for this disease is 4 days. Still, the symptoms can be seen as early as 2 to 10 days. Seek prompt medical attention or go directly to an emergency room if the symptoms you thought were normal aren’t improving with treatment. Getting yourself checked and tested can eliminate or confirm the possibility of having meningococcal meningitis. It’s always better to know early on because this type of ailment gets more difficult to treat over time. We hope that this article has provided essential information regarding the disease.

Travelvax Pty Ltd

1/85 O’Riordan St, Alexandria NSW 2015, Australia

+61 3 0036 0164