Monday, June 10, 2019

VIDEO: Potentially Deadly Meningococcal Disease is Preventable

Editor's Note: This video is part of a monthly Texas Medical Association series highlighting infectious diseases that childhood and adult vaccinations can prevent. MeAndMyDoctor.com will post a video about a different disease each month. Some of the diseases featured will include: FluMeaslesPneumococcal diseaseHuman papillomavirus (HPV)Chickenpox and shinglesPertussis (whooping cough), Hepatitis ARubella (also known as German measles), RotavirusPolioMumps, Tetanus, and Hepatitis B.

TMA designed the series to inform people of the facts about these diseases and to help them understand the benefits of vaccinations to prevent illness. Visit the TMA website to see news releases and more information about these diseases, as well as physicians' efforts to raise immunization awareness.



In the video above, Maria Monge, MD, an Austin pediatrician/adolescent medicine specialist and Texas Medical Association (TMA) physician leader, talks about Meningococcal disease, its different strains, symptoms patients can experience, and the vaccines available to prevent it.

Meningococcal disease can refer to any illness caused by a bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis, also known as meningococcus. These illnesses include meningitis, an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord most commonly caused by the B strain of the bacteria; and bacteremia and septicemia, bloodstream-related infections. People are at risk of contracting these diseases if they are in close personal contact with anyone infected - including sharing drinks,and kissing- or if they live in close quarters such as college dormitories or military barracks.

Symptoms of meningococcal B infection include a sudden fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, and confusion. Patients might also develop a rash. According the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, one in 10 people who contract the disease (even with treatment) will die; two in 10 will suffer serious and permanent complications. Long-term effects include learning difficulties, hearing loss, or limb amputation.

Although overall meningococcal disease is rare in the U.S., meningococcal B accounts for more than half of all meningitis cases nationwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 10 meningococcal B outbreaks at universities located in seven states between 2013 to 2018, resulting in 39 cases and two deaths.

Meningococcal disease can be prevented with vaccines. The CDC advises people age 10 or older at risk for meningococcal disease, including those with a weakened immune system or living in close quarters, get vaccinated against serogroup (type) B. The CDC recommends the shots be given between ages 16 to 18. More than one dose is recommended to ensure best protections. Different meningococcal vaccines against serogroups A, C, W, and Y are also recommended for all adolescents.

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