What Is Meningococcal Infection? Why is she so dangerous?
Meningococcal disease is potentially fatal, the illness that it provokes is considered in medicine as an emergency. For example, it causes the bacterial form of meningitis, as well as a number of other extremely dangerous diseases.
What should I know about meningococcal infection?
Meningococcal infection has been known since ancient times. About it is mentioned in vIIst. BC, and the first more or less detailed description was given in the middle of the XVII century. This is a bacterium that is transmitted by airborne droplets from person to person. The infection can spread from the throat through the flow of blood to the human brain, which is most dangerous. A person can be a carrier of meningococcal infection, not guessing about it, and infect others while staying healthy.
The most terrible meningococcal infection is for children under 5 years of age, as they are not able to effectively produce immunity against it. That is why 80% of patients with ailments that provoke this bacterium are small children.
Meningococcal infection can cause the following diseases:
nasopharyngitis, which manifests itself in the form of a cold;
meningitis – inflammation of the membranes of the brain;
meningococcal sepsis when the bacterium penetrates blood;
pneumonia – inflammation of the lungs;
endocarditis – inflammation of the inner lining of the heart;
arthritis – inflammation of the joints;
iridocyclitis – inflammation of the iris of the eye.
Meningococcal meningitis begins as a common cold, then symptoms such as severe headache, rigors of the cervical and other muscles, loss of consciousness, photophobia, vomiting, and fever. Also, there are internal bleeding that manifests itself in specific rashes on the body. Severe intoxication often results in disturbance of cardiovascular activity, respiration and death. There are lightning-fast forms of meningitis, when the disease develops so quickly that the patient does not have time to save. Meningococcal sepsis is also a severe, deadly disease.
Especially striking symptom of the presence of meningococcal infection in the body is the rash that appears at the end of the 1st – at the beginning of the 2nd day of the disease. They disappear when pushed, spread throughout the body. Then the character of the rash varies: they get reddish-red with a bluish tint, do not disappear when pushed, localized mainly on the buttocks, hips, legs and feet.
Treatment and complications
The slightest suspicion of meningococcal infection requires immediate treatment for medical assistance and hospitalization. The minimum loss of time can become fatal. To confirm the diagnosis, the patient takes a cerebrovascular puncture. If the presence of this infection in the body is confirmed, the patient urgently begin treatment with antibiotics.
In the absence of treatment, meningococcal infection in 50% of cases causes death of the patient. But even with early diagnosis and initiation of treatment, about 16% of patients die in 1-2 days after the onset of the first symptoms. From 10 to 20% of surviving patients, they get complications in the form of brain damage, hearing loss, mental retardation.
How to protect against meningococcal infection?
The only effective preventive measure to prevent meningococcal infection today is vaccination. The vaccine’s effectiveness reaches about 90%, the immunity is maintained for 3-5 years. It is recommended that children younger than 5 years old be identified as the most vulnerable to this infection. In Ukraine, this vaccine is not included in the number of obligatory, but parents at their own expense can vaccinate the child, the vaccine is in pharmacies.