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 at that time, had developed a sudden high fever accompanied by small red rashes. Assuming it to be a viral fever, they immediately took her to their doctor. Gradually, she became sleepy and started experiencing severe body pain. Soon, her speech took the form of babbling and her condition started deteriorating. She was immediately taken to the ICU and was given heavy antibiotics, and her spinal fluid was sent for tests.
All I can recall now from then was seeing teary-eyed parents, who didn’t have an idea of what had happened. It was a medical emergency, with the girl experiencing high, 105-degree fever, and rashes. Well, that was the attack of the disease called meningococcal meningitis, which left her with neurological defects and partial hearing loss, after a month of recovery.
Meningococcal Meningitis: Who Is At Risk?
The most common targets of meningococcal meningitis are children, who are younger than 5 years, teens, and adults. If the infection isn’t treated immediately, the fatality rate is 50 percent (1) ! The chances of contracting the disease can increase if:
- you have a compromised immune system
- you’re traveling to endemic regions of Africa
- you’re participating in mass gatherings
This meningitis affects only humans and is transmittable via respiratory droplets, through coughing and by being in close contact with an infected person for a long time. Hence, always ensure hygienic practices, and teach your kids the right hygiene standards.(1)
Meningococcal Meningitis Vaccination: The Best Solution For This Deadly Disease
Since meningococcal meningitis is a serious disease which can cause serious brain complications, vaccination is the best choice for prevention. There are many different groups of bacteria that can cause meningococcal meningitis. But the good news is that for five of the most common bacteria types causing meningitis, protection is available via a vaccine— Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine (MCV). And the Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine is an approved vaccine and can be administered to anyone between the ages of 9 months to 55 years (2). When children enter adolescence, they are more prone to infections. All children must get vaccinated with MCV at the age of 11-12 years and then get the booster dose when they turn 16. Apart from that, any adult can be at the risk of being infected, more so, if they travel frequently. Hence, it is always recommended that you discuss it with your doctor and get vaccinated.(3)
*Usually the vaccines are safe, but one can have some mild reaction to it such as a slight fever and redness, which gets better within 1-2 days.
In India, the vaccine against meningococcal meningitis hasn’t been included in the mandatory vaccination schedule yet. But looking at the many outbreaks, and increased rate of infection in kids aged 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 against it.
Give them the gift of a happy, disease-free life!
The views expressed in the blog content are independent and unbiased views of solely the blogger. This is a part of a 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 may often change as more research knowledge becomes available. The blog or the author should be in no way held responsible in that case.