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Meningococcal disease in children: prevention

Meningococcal disease in children and adults (meningococcemia) is one of the most dangerous diseases of bacterial origin that is distributed between people, and the only source of which is man. The maximum risk group includes pediatric population and adolescents.

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Bacteria survive mainly in the mucosa of the nasopharynx of a healthy person who becomes a chronic carrier, and transmitted to others. Bacteria of this type can survive outdoors for more than a few seconds, so the only potential cause of infection are close contact with chronic carrier.

The route of transmission of infection to a healthy person from the carrier is based primarily on droplet shape, mostly, the infection occurs through coughing, kissing, sneezing, etc.

As in the nasopharynx are created very favorable conditions for harmful bacteria, infection finds here also a good "ground". The bacteria quickly spread through the blood throughout the human body, thereby damaging it.

Such forms of meningococcal disease as A, b, C, W-135, Y can be prevented through vaccination, which can be performed even in children.

Other preventive measures (no guaranteed results) include avoidance of enclosed spaces, adherence to a healthy lifestyle, proper diet, adequate intake of vitamins and exposure to fresh air.

The initial symptoms of the disease include such things as:

  • subfebrile,
  • headache,
  • sometimes – vomiting.

The condition of the patient very quickly can turn into the form of unexplained fatigue, leading to severe drowsiness and physical exhaustion.

The first signs occur "from nowhere", the rapidly deteriorating state of health does not precede any act that would constitute a signal about the development of the disease. At the outbreak of the disease is extremely important to start treatment as soon as possible. Early treatment of meningococcal disease in children and adults is able to prevent potential serious consequences, are even lethal outcome or to avoid wide spread infection and permanent destruction of the body.

The disease is meningococcus

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What is meningococcal disease? This, as mentioned above, bacterial disease caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitides, known as meningococcus. This bacterium is a time bomb, surviving in the nasopharynx of almost 15% of the healthy population. Most of these people, the disease does not develop, but these carriers become a threat to other healthy people.

A chronic carrier is a healthy person with a well-functioning and strong immune system, whose health does not require any treatment or preventive measures. Chronic carriers of the meningococcus bacterium is transmitted only for a short period of time, after which the infectivity disappears itself without any implications or possible medical reasons. Some people who are carriers of meningococcal bacteria, this carriage is shown very positively, because the body creates antibodies that form a natural immunity against possible infection.

Although globally there are various forms of meningococcal infection in our country the most common diseases that are indicated by the letters A, b, C, W-135, Y, against which vaccination is available.

Since we are talking about a bacterial disease, all types can cause invasive infection, when the disease spreads to the tireless pace of the blood to all tissues of the body. The body creates very favorable conditions for a quick and very numerous multiplication of bacteria, resulting in comes to significant damage to internal organs. Through the blood bacteria spread to other parts of the body, which affects most frequently infected kidney, liver, heart, lungs and eyes.

After this dangerous bacteria attacks the protective barrier of the human body comes to life-threatening health problems.

Meningococcal disease in children and adults mainly affects relatively healthy and physically strong. Dangerous bacteria are present all year round, cases of morbidity increased, according to statistics, in summer and winter, in cloudy weather, when the people going to the weakening of the immune system. In summer,on the contrary, the infection often called frequent changes of media and contacts with new people.


The nature of meningococcal diseases are bacterial diseases that are transmitted from person to person. The main source of infection represented person that are microporosities spreading infection droplets. Bacteria cannot survive in the air more than a few seconds which also indicates the explicit form of the transfer.

While in the immediate vicinity of the carrier, the person inhales air that contains dangerous bacteria, subsequently, those "satisfied" in the nasopharynx and begin its gradual propagation. A large number of diseases is found in young people, in which case infection occurred during the festivities with many greetings associated with kisses.

The most common triggering mechanisms of the disease, in most cases, comes after heavy mental or physical stress. The group of potential causes of the disease include hypothermia, which leads to weakening of the immune system, and often being in a smoky or overcrowded facilities.

Groups at risk the main causes of illness are factors that have a direct communication with protective mechanisms of the human body. Severe meningococcal disease nature usually develop in individuals who have a feverish illness, the original cause which may be a banal flu or a cold. Also, the risk groups include people with respiratory diseases, whose immune system is weakened.

Groups most at risk include infants and preschool children, and adolescents. The most common trigger of the disease in this group is staying in a foreign environment, which, as a rule, sports camps, schools, clubs, etc. the Highest percentage of morbidity is registered among adolescents, this fact is primarily due to changes in their immune system.

A possible reason may fall sick child, parents are the smokers who indulge in their bad habit in the house. Children who grow up in smoky area have the damaged mucosa of the nose and mouth, which allows bacteria to gain a foothold.

The causes of the disease, however, does not necessarily have to be associated with impaired health or compromised immune systems. Dangerous bacteria often infect people who previously rejoiced in a perfectly healthy condition.

Signs and symptoms of the disease

The first symptoms meningococcal disease has, in most cases, a little different from the manifestations of the flu or the initial stage of tonsillitis. Typical signs are seen often in a time frame of 1-3 days, with more important cases for several hours.

The first and most common symptoms of infection caused by the meningococcus, is a high body temperature that rises to 40°C. For several tens of minutes to this basis is added cephalalgia, which may be accompanied by vomiting. The patient feels severe muscle and joint pain, which may be followed by fatigue, leading to severe sleepiness.

Not a rare symptom is a rash when meningococcemia. Pour can the legs, arms, buttocks, in more severe cases the whole body.

Many patients develop septic meningitis – a condition which accompanies disorders of consciousness and convulsions. The first symptoms of the disease include:

  • high temperature,
  • nausea,
  • cephalalgia, as resembling migraine,
  • vomiting,
  • stiff muscles that cause the inability to tilt the head forward.

Meningitis is fatal about 10% of patients.

A more severe form of the disease presents with meningococcal sepsis, which kills about 25% of patients. In the absence of treatment in humans for several hours may come to septic shock (blood poisoning) in which there is loss of consciousness. This phase is characterized by the failure of all the vital functions. Due to poor clotting of blood occur small spots on the skin, which gradually turns into large bloody localization, that state is extensive bleeding under the skin. This phase assumes very little chance of survival due to the perfusion of vital organs, the functions of which will soon stop. As the first kidneys and liver, ultimately, heart failure ensues, which comes to death.

Meningococcal sepsis is reflected in a sharp deterioration of human health. The first manifestations include the high temperature which accompanies a rapid decrease in blood pressure. After the person turns pale and accelerated his pulse and heartbeat, it becomes quite clear that we are talking about a serious symptoms of meningococcal disease.

Every patient manifest different symptoms in different combinations and intensity, as a rule, it depends on the form of infection. As soon as begin to show typical symptoms of infection by meningococcal bacteria, you should immediately seek medical help.Timely therapy is able to prevent potential negative consequences for health, in some cases, even death.

Vaccination and preventive measures

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The best possible, but only a partial way to prevent disease caused by infection of meningococcus type A, b, C, W-135, Y, is an early vaccination. Against type b, which in our latitudes, the most common available vaccine Bexsero manufacturer Novartis.

Vaccines have the ability to create the body's protective antibodies that can protect a person later when potential contact with meningococcal bacteria. Currently used for vaccination conjugate vaccines, containing more powerful components than their predecessors – polysaccharide vaccine.

Conjugate vaccine is a type of vaccination which is carried out only in one dose, which contains a complex protective substances. Conjugate vaccines are effective only for persons older than one year, their effectiveness in Junior fails, therefore they are not used in this age group. Children under one year of age should be vaccinated in three stages, namely, at intervals of one month. Vaccination can be carried out in children aged two months, many pediatricians, however, recommend to vaccinate children from 18 months of age.

Vaccination is usually carried out only at the request of the person or of the parents, the vaccine is not covered by health insurance, so everyone pays the cost from its own financial resources. The effectiveness of primary vaccine protects a person for not more than five years, after which revaccination is required. Vaccination with a conjugated vaccine provides individuals reliable protection for ten years.

Preventive measures include restriction of visiting of crowded places or of being in enclosed spaces with high concentrations of people because these factors represent the largest percentage of possible infection. Partly the threat of a possible infection can prevent a healthy lifestyle, active recreation and regular exercise, and also sufficient rest. Possible prevention is also a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals, sufficient fluid intake. It is necessary to avoid active and passive Smoking, in particular, should not be in those places, where concentrates a large number of cigarette smoke. The immune system contributes to the frequent stays in the nature.

In case of contact with an infected person, who manifested the first symptoms, you should seek medical help. For these people it is very important emergency treatment, which consists of regular administration of antibiotics. People at risk of infection should reduce physical activity, try to relax more to stay in the fresh air.


To save the life of a sick person it is necessary to early detect the first symptoms of meningococcal disease, and its rapid transportation to the hospital. Initial symptoms, respectively, suspected meningococcus, should determine the physician who will be in a situation to respond immediately. If, however, rendered a wrong diagnosis and put treatment as in the ordinary flu or sore throat, as a rule, the condition of the patient succumbs. For salvation it is important to react and to begin immediate treatment.

Basic, but very important therapy must be started immediately after transport to the hospital. The patient may be administered intravenously antibiotics, which partially prevent the spread of dangerous bacteria.

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The actual diagnosis of the disease is preceded by microscopic analysis of blood, which suspected meningococcal infection confirms or denies. Other options include the determination of the diagnosis by screening of cerebrospinal fluid or a smear from the throat.

The patient with suspected meningococcal infection immediately introduced large doses of antibiotics and infusion solutions, even before a precise definition of the test results. Meningococcal bacteria are very well exposed to high doses of penicillin, sulfonamide or ampicillin. Important measures include enhanced monitoring and the provision of essential functions.

After the diagnosis of the disease the patient is in the intensive care unit, where he provides additional treatment. Therapy consists of intubation and mechanical ventilation.

In the treatment of meningococcal meningitis, the patient entered high doses of bactericidal antibiotics that have the ability very well to penetrate the Central nervous system. Another element of treatment is the introduction of high doses of steroids that act as hormones of the adrenal cortex and create a natural protection.

In serious cases, such as meningococcal sepsis, it is necessary to prevent a total system failure. The patient required oxygen and a large amount of fluid supplied by venous injections. The liquid, which flow directly into the veinsman, have the ability to support circulatory function that will allow you to avoid critical (until the death) of the patient.

Consequences of meningococcal infection

The most tragic consequence of meningococcal disease is the death of a person which ends at about 10% of the total number of infections. The most common cause of death was late diagnosis and, consequently, treatment. Death in most cases occurs within 24-48 hours after the outbreak of the disease, i.e., infection with meningococcal bacteria.

The most common cause of death is cerebral edema, which is caused by increased production of cerebrospinal fluid. Death can also be caused by an increased response to bacterial toxins, resulting in comes to stretching the blood vessels, leading to heart failure. Another possibility of reason for the fatal outcome is gemoperfuzii vital organs, including the liver, kidneys and heart. Bleeding into the skin, the respiratory tract, the gastrointestinal tract, is the failure of adrenal function. For several minutes a person dies…

The most common complication is the damage to the cranial nerves that causes serious permanent damage to the auditory nerve.

Some people have lifelong neurological complications that result in epilepsy or paralysis of the muscles of the face and other body parts.


Like any other serious disease, diseases meningococcal nature suggesting immediate medical intervention. Only way to avoid tragic complications.