About what is meningitis, how it is transmitted and why you need a vaccination, editorial News.Medicine told Alex Rtishchev, PhD, pediatrician, infectious diseases specialist, associate Professor of infectious diseases at children rnsmu. N. I. Pirogov.
What is meningitis and how is it transmitted?
Meningitis refers to the inflammation of the meninges. The causative agents of this disease can be of different microorganisms. First of all it’s bacteria and viruses, in rare cases, they can be fungi and protozoa. Clinical manifestations are almost the same regardless of the pathogen.
Bacterial (purulent) meningitis is more severe. The most common worldwide pathogens of purulent meningitis – meningococcus, pneumococcus and Haemophilus wand type B. Bacterial meningitis caused by these microorganisms are airborne. The source of infection may not necessarily be sick with meningitis.
Often the infection comes from the people who have the disease appears mild (symptoms similar to acute respiratory infections), or who are carriers, but only with prolonged contact with a source of infection. The risk is higher among military personnel (recruits) and first-year students that live in dormitories.
How often meningitis is found in Russia?
General statistics on meningitis does not exist. In Russia separate statistics on the incidence of purulent bacterial meningitis, as well as separately for meningococcal, pneumococcal and Haemophilus influenzae. But because of the variety of clinical conditions these infections (carriage, pneumonia, acute otitis media etc.), an accurate count is impossible.
How to recognize meningitis? What is disease and what is dangerous?
Should alert to the signs of acute inflammatory process: the increase in body temperature to high values, which is difficult to break the bad days. The older children and adults, there are complaints of headaches, vomiting. Other signs of disease, suggesting that inflamed the meninges, can detect a doctor. When symptoms of acute illness with high fever must see a doctor.
Meningitis is a very dangerous condition. The outcome depends on many factors, including the age of onset (younger children it is more severe), concomitant diseases and from pathogen. Typically, the most severe fatal cases arise in the development of severe diseases – sepsis, or meningococcemia.
What are some ways to prevent meningitis?
Vaccination is the only effective way to prevent meningococcal infection. Unfortunately, to control the so-called non-specific methods of meningococcal infection is very difficult.
To protect young children that are most vulnerable to the occurrence of severe forms of meningitis, use of modern conjugate vaccine, which protects against the four most common meningococci (A, C, Y, W). In those countries where it is widely used such vaccination, morbidity and mortality in recent years has decreased.
Who needs vaccination against meningitis? Why it is not included in the national calendar?
First of all, the vaccine is shown to children the first five years of life, because among this age group develop the most severe form of the disease and most frequent deaths.
But there are other risk groups – closed groups: military recruits, students who arrive at the hostel. Recruits in our country is a compulsory vaccination against meningococcal disease. Another risk group is patients with various immune deficiencies and those who have no spleen.
Unfortunately, this vaccination is not included in the national immunization schedule due to organizational and financial reasons. But the necessity of its inclusion or the wider use is undeniable.