Meningococcal Meningitis: A Rare Disease Which Can Affect Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere
Meningitis is a swelling in the membrane covering the brain and spinal cord. It is one such medical condition, which can affect anyone at any time. Here’s all you need to know about meningitis
What do you mean by the term Meningitis?
Meningitis is an inflammation (swelling) of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord (known as meninges). Swelling is usually caused by bacteria or viral infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. However, this may be caused by other infections, drugs and injury leading to meningitis.
Meningococcal Meningitis – A rare but Devastating Infection
Invasive Meningococcal Disease (IMD) is a rare but potentially devastating bacterial infection caused by Neisseria meningitidis. It is commonly found as meningitis an infection of the brain (infection of the brain) and/or septicemia (infection of the blood).
Despite the recent advances in medical care, the disease has severe impacts such as
- It may take life in a matter of hours
- It can lead to long-term sequelae with devastating effects on the patient and their families2
- It can pose significant lifelong economic impact on society.
One of the biggest risks of this disease is that it’s highly unpredictable and can affect anyone in spite of their age and geography; however some people are still at higher risk than others. There might be cases where this rare disease can claim a life within 24 hours after the very first symptom appears.
Over the last decade in India, more than 50,000 cases have been identified for Meningococcal Meningitis resulting in more than 3,000 deaths.
As per the reports, 1 out of every 10 individual who develop the disease may lose their life from it and up to 10-20% of survivors suffer from serious complications such as amputation, scars, deafness or brain damage, which can make the whole living worst.
Anyone, anywhere can be at the risk
While meningococcal meningitis mainly affects children below the age of five, adolescents and young adults, it can affect anyone, anywhere in the world. Most meningococcal meningitis occurs in otherwise healthy individuals without identifiable risk factors. There has also been relatively large number of cases observed among older adults.
Increased risk factors include:
- Living in community set up (such as military or college students in dormitories)
- Participating in mass gathering events such as the Hajj, an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca
- Certain medical conditions, including HIV infection / asplenia / a compromised immune system / deficiencies of either immunoglobulins or complement
- Meningitis belt in Sub-Saharan Africa is known to be one of the endemic areas; Travelling to such places can also put you at risk
Provide comprehensive protection against all types of vaccine preventable meningitis
Meningitis is a serious disease, caused by bacteria, viral and/or other reasons. Unfortunately vaccination is not available against all of them.
Vaccination is available against 3 major causes of bacterial meningitis. The causative agents being:
- Streptococcus pneumoniae, causing Pneumococcal meningitis
- Haemophilus influenza type b, causing Haemophilus Meningitis
- Neisseria meningitides, causing Meningococcal Meningitis
As a way forward, one must take proper consultation from pediatrician on these 3 common causes of bacterial meningitis and ways to protect your child against them.
Let’s fight against Meningitis together
The threat of Meningococcal Meningitis is large, but still a lot of us are unknown towards it. Awareness is one of the necessary tools for cure. Let’s all of us join the hands and spread awareness on this potentially devastating disease. Share this article on your social media so we can all stand “Together against Meningitis” and can reduce the risk of it.
Author: Priyanka Sharma
This article is issued in public interest by Sanofi Pasteur. SPIN.MENAC.19.04.0104b
Source: Onlymyhealth editorial team Jul 23, 2019
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