Immune | January 17, 2019 | Author: Naturopath
Meningococcal disease is a serious illness caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis and its serogroups. The bacteria cause inflammation of the tissue layers that cover the brain and spinal cord (meninges) and can lead to septicaemia (poisoning of the blood) which may result in severe brain damage and even death in at least 50% of cases. Septic infection of joints, pneumonia (lung infection) and conjunctivitis (infection of the eye) may also be implicated in rare cases.
Meningococcal septicaemia (blood poisoning) is when the bacteria has overwhelmed the body and is breaking down blood vessels – causing the characteristic rash. Septicaemia can cause shock and death in a matter of hours.
The incubation time for the development of the disease is usually 4 days, but can be anytime between 2-10 days from time of infection.
In babies and young children symptoms may include high-pitched crying, loss of appetite or trouble waking and rag-doll appearance.
Note: These symptoms may occur together or separately.
Seek medical assistance immediately if you suspect symptoms might be meningococcal disease. Meningococcal is considered a medical emergency.
The good news about meningococcal disease is that it usually does not survive for long outside of the body. The infection is transmitted from person to person from close personal contact, such as passionate kissing, by aerosol (sneezing or coughing), or direct contact with respiratory secretions (nose and throat) of patients or healthy human carriers.
Interestingly between 5-25% of people carry the bacteria in the back of their nose and throat without showing any symptoms. The disease can overwhelm the body when the immune defences are down, travelling the blood stream to the brain where it causes damage that is life threatening or disabling (brain damage and hearing loss).
Everyone is at risk of being infected with meningococcal causing bacteria Neisseria meningitidis but those at higher risk include:
Once the diagnosis of meningococcal disease is applied, antibiotics will be prescribed for the patient and often for others who have been potentially exposed. Meningococcal is a notifiable disease.
Through mass preventive immunization campaigns in areas of the world where meningitis is extremely prevalent there has seen a decline in the disease. Identifying the serotype of Neisseria meningitidis is necessary to apply the specific immunization.
A serotype is a distinct variation of a species of bacteria, virus or immune cells.
The bacteria, Neisseria meningitidis, and its serogroups can be responsible for sporadic outbreaks of meningococcal disease in small groups and clusters around the world, but most concerning is the potential massive outbreaks that can devastate a society.
This is why immunization is recommended.
At this moment there has been 13 serotypes of Neisseria meningitidis identified of which six (A, B, C, W, X and Y) have been found to cause epidemics. Immunization for serotypes A, B, C, W, Y has been able to reduce the number of diseases caused by these serotypes.
Vaccines against meningococcal disease have been available for over 40 years and improved over time, but there is not one vaccine that will cover all of serotypes known. Instead serogroup specific is used routinely and promptly in an outbreak.
In Australia most of the infections are from serotypes B and W. But we have vaccines available for 5 strains of the disease.
Meningococcal C conjugate vaccine protects against meningococcal group C disease and is suitable for teenagers and adults.
Meningococcal B has 2 vaccines which are given in four doses – at ages 2, 4, 6 and 12 months. Children over 12 months, teenagers and adults are given the vaccine in two doses approximately 2 months apart.
There maybe minor side effects for some people which include a mild to moderate fever and a sore arm. A new vaccine now available, is suitable for over people 10 years of age and over. It is given in two doses 6 months apart.
Quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccines (4vMenCV) protects against groups A, C, Y and W strains. This vaccine available free for babies at 12 months of age through the National Immunisation Program (NIP).
Some states in Australia offer vaccines for adolescents. Click on your state for information.
New South Wales Click Here
South Australia Click Here
A C T Click Here
Victoria Click Here
Western Australia Click Here
Queensland Click Here
Tasmania Click Here
Northern Territory Click Here
Check with your doctor what vaccine is right for you and your family. A script may be needed for some vaccines.
Seek Medical help if you have associated with someone who has the disease or fear the symptoms you are experiencing could be the meningococcal disease. Do not wait for the rash to appear.
If you have experienced an upper respiratory infection or you are immune comprised you may want to support your immune system by for following suggestions.
Supplement with probiotics, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin D, zinc and selenium to support your immunity.
Click Here For Further Reading