Meningococcal disease is a scourge. Bacteria can enter through the nose or mouth and spread to the brain. It can also enter the bloodstream and induce organ failure.
According to the World Health Organization, meningococcal disease can be found all over the world. The highest rates of disease come from Sub-Saharan Africa. But cases can be found all across Canada, and anyone can die from it.
What are meningococcal causes, and how do diseases spread? How do doctors go about treating meningococcal disease? What are potential vaccines, and how much do they cost?
Answer these questions and you can keep yourself and your children safe from meningitis. Here is your quick guide.
What Causes Meningococcal Disease?
Meningococcal disease is a rare but deadly. It is come from the bacteria Neisseria Meningitidis. This bacteria develops in the pharynx, which is located in the upper respiratory system. It only grows in human bodies, so you cannot receive it from contact with animals or water.
It spreads through respiratory secretions, including saliva. It can also spread through semen, especially during oral sex.
The same bacteria can cause meningococcal septicemia. It occurs when the bacteria enters the bloodstream and grows rapidly. It can spread through blood transfusions, though this is rare.
The diseases are transmittable. Breathing and talking expel thousands of respiratory droplets out of a person's mouth. Breathing in several droplets can cause infection.
Diseases often spread inside residential areas. This is due to the close contact between residents. Infections can run through entire dormitory buildings and apartment complexes.
But taking some steps can reduce transmission rates. Leaving a window open allows droplets to circulate out of a closed room. Closing off common areas after an outbreak can also help.
Meningococcal disease is a kind of bacterial meningitis that affects the brain and spinal cord linings. The common symptoms includes:
- Stiff neck
- Severe headache
- High fever
If left untreated, meningococcal diseases can cause death within two days. Bacteria can spread to the lining of the brain, inducing swelling that shuts down brain functions. People who survive severe cases can be left with hearing loss and cognitive disabilities.
If treated, a person can recover. It may take several days in the hospital, but a person can avoid major complications.
You may have heard of other types of meningitis. They create near-identical symptoms and complications to meningococcal diseases. But they are distinct because Neisseria meningitidis does not cause them.
Is Meningococcal Disease Treatable?
Anyone suspected of having meningococcal disease should go to the hospital. Bacteria spreads rapidly through the body. Immediate care is the only way to save someone's life.
A doctor can run a blood culture to see what kind of bacteria a person has. In advanced cases, they can perform a lumbar puncture. They can draw fluid out of the spinal cord lining to see if bacteria has spread there.
Nearly all diagnosed patients will be hospitalized. They will receive antibiotics that kill the bacteria in their system. These can be administered through a standard IV that runs through their arm.
For cases of septicemia, patients can receive new blood products. They can get transfusions of white blood cells that fight off infections. Some patients suffer from low blood pressure or blood oxygen levels, so they can take medication for those.
Septicemia can cause internal bleeding and organ damage. In rare cases, patients may need surgery to remove damaged tissue. This can result in amputations of arms and legs.
Where to Get the Vaccine for Meningococcal Disease?
There is more than one meningococcal vaccine. The MenACWY vaccine is for young adults, namely those who are 11 and 12 years old. It protects against all kinds of diseases, and it can help those with HIV/AIDS or spleen damage.
The MenB vaccine is for teenagers. It protects people who have immune disorders or are taking complement inhibitors.
Young people should get the vaccine when their doctor recommends it. Adults can take either type until they turn 55. Adults who have a weakened immune system may be able to take it beyond that age.
You can go to your doctor for either type of vaccine. Both types require multiple doses and additional booster shots for patients at risk. Both may cause pain at the injection site and feelings of fatigue.
You can also go to a local pharmacy to get your shots. Try to go on a day when you are not feeling sick.
A person who comes down with meningococcal disease does not become immune. They may become immune to a specific kind of bacteria, but the bacteria can mutate. They should get the vaccine after they have recovered.
How Much Does It Cost?
Most insurance plans cover the expenses of meningococcal treatment and vaccination. This includes critical illness insurance. Out-of-pocket expenses are generally minimal.
New MenB vaccines arrived on the market in 2014. They cost roughly 100 dollars per dose, and they are available with a doctor's prescription. These doses stimulate the immune system so they create more effective antibodies.
Some territories cover the cost of MenB vaccines for children who are at high risk. They must have a diagnosed medical issue like a damaged spleen.
Meningococcal Disease: Rare but Deadly
Anyone who may have it must go to the hospital. A patient can receive antibiotics, blood transfusions, and surgery.
The best way to prevent meningococcal disease is to get vaccinated. Teenagers should get the MenACWY or MenB vaccine. Insured people may not have to pay out of pocket.
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