Meningococcal illness is a rare but serious bacterial infection that can result in severe brain damage, limb loss, or even death. It primarily affects toddlers under the age of five and adolescents between 15 to 19. There were 1,154 cases in the UK last year, compared to slightly over 200 cases in 1996. The Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) was established to support research into the causes, consequences, and cures of meningitis and related disorders. Meningococcal illness can progress to meningitis, an infection of the membranes and fluid around the brain and spinal cord. Although this infection is relatively uncommon in most affluent countries, it is still a severe concern in some African countries.
How is it transmitted?
Meningococcal disease can be transmitted through direct contact with someone who has meningococcal bacteria in their respiratory tract (nose and throat) or through exposure to objects that have been contaminated by the bacteria. It can be spread easily from person to person through close contact with respiratory and throat secretions, such as during coughing, kissing, or sharing cigarettes.
Factors or Causes
Meningococcal disease is an uncommon but potentially life-threatening infection caused by a bacterial type of meningococcus bacteria. It can lead to blood poisoning (septicemia) and inflammation of the brain, spinal cord, or membranes around the brain and spinal cord (meningitis). Most people who get this infection do not survive, but prompt medical attention increases the chance of survival. Bacteria are spread through droplets from sneezing or coughing, which can easily infect others nearby.
Meningitis is the inflammation of the meninges that causes a severe illness with fever, headache, stiff neck, and vomiting. The bacteria are spread through respiratory droplets, such as sneezing, coughing, etc. These bacteria are carried by 10% of teenagers and young adults, but nearly everyone will be colonized.
Symptoms of meningitis include:
-High temperature (fever) or low temperature;
-A severe headache;
-Joint pain; and/or
-Being sick (nausea and/or being sick)
The treatment for the meningococcal disease will depend on the strain of bacteria causing the infection. The CDC reports that most cases of meningitis are caused by a few strains of bacteria, including types A, B and C. Treatment for these strains is different from other types of infections caused by different strains. And the treatment may also differ based on whether a patient has been vaccinated against meningitis in the past. Although there is no cure for meningococcal disease, early diagnosis and treatment can prevent serious complications or even death from the infection. The two most common types of meningococcal disease are spread through respiratory droplets that spread from person to person.
The meningococcal vaccine is recommended for all children at 2 months of age and again between 4 and 6 months of age. The vaccine is given as part of the routine immunization program in schools when children are aged 11 or 12 years old. Various vaccines are available against meningococcal disease. Inactivated or recombinant vaccines protect against the most common serogroups A, C, W-135, and Y. The polysaccharide vaccine protects against serogroup A and C. MenACWY-CRM is a conjugate vaccine that protects against meningococcal strains A, C, W-135, and Y. MenACWY is a vaccine that helps prevent meningococcal disease caused by the serogroup A, C, W, and Y (also known as groups ACWY) of Neisseria meningitis bacteria. The vaccine does not protect against other types of meningitis or septicemia caused by other strains of meningococcus. It is estimated to be around 80% effective at preventing invasive disease caused by group C and group W meningococcus.
The researchers found that the highest level of protection was seen in children who had received their first dose of vaccine at 12 months, with about half (52%) protected against disease. Meningococcal infection can be prevented by immunization, which is offered as an injection to infants at the age of 12 months, with a booster dose given at 4–5 years. The vaccine protects against four strains of meningococcal bacteria that cause most cases of the disease in New Zealand.
Meningococcal disease is an uncommon but life-threatening bacterial infection that can cause severe brain damage, limb loss, and even death. It is most common in toddlers under the age of five and adolescents between 15 to 19. Seek immediate medical assistance if you fear your child has the meningococcal disease or see symptoms of the infection.