What is meningitis and when is a meningitis vaccination needed? These questions literally wake full-grown adult parents up from a dead sleep. In towns and counties-even cities-and all over the United States, meningitis is rearing its ugly head. How do we defeat the threat of our children becoming infected with this most devastating and potentially fatal disease that can attack anyone yet seems to find our children most vulnerable?
Many parents know the horror story of having someone in their son or daughter’s class who comes down with what seems an instantaneous attack of meningitis. Many times the children are sent home and the next thing that happens is you are sitting with your child and clumsily explaining life and death and mortality to them as you drive over to the funeral home so the fellow students of the deceased can share in their grief.
The statists are frightening. Worldwide there are over 330,000 new cases reported each year. In the United States the number of new cases reported annually is approximately 2,600. Out of both these infection rates up to twenty percent of those infected will die from the disease.
What is Meningitis?
There are different types of meningitis- Spinal, viral, and bacterial are just three-and vaccination guards against all of them. Generally speaking, meningitis is an inflammation of the membrane that covers and protects the brain inside the skull cavity and that also protects and covers the spinal cord.
- Viral Meningitis can cause a relatively less severe infection. It’s no walk through the park and it may clear up without applying a heavy duty treatment plan, but it is still an infection that is concentrated around the brain and spine and should never be taken lightly.
- Bacterial Meningitis on the other hand, can cause a much more severe infection. This strain of meningitis may cause brain damage, hearing loss, learning disabilities and easily…death.
- Knowing the difference between which strain the patient (or loved one) has been infected with is very important because the treatment options are so-very different for each type.
Signs & Symptoms
The symptoms of both types of meningitis overlap. They may take one or two days to develop and they include:
- High fever
• Stiff neck
• Difficulty looking into bright lights
• And sleepiness
Now, obviously this list looks like it could fit any teenager at one point or more in his/her life. Do not jump to conclusions. Keep your ears to the ground regarding what is happening in your part of town health-wise. And remember that if a schoolmate or your child comes down with any form of meningitis you will be notified through the school system.
The best protection available today is the meningitis vaccination. Some types of meningitis is passed from person to person, student to student. So unless you are planning on home schooling for their entire lives (and then still not allowing them outside around other kids to have any fun whatsoever) vaccination is the way to go.
Who should receive the meningitis vaccination?
According to the preeminent authority on such matters, The Centers For Disease Control & Prevention, the following individuals should receive the meningitis vaccination:
- Preteens and teens 11 to 18 years old
• College freshman who reside in dormitories
• Children ages 2 to 10 years old who are at an increased risk and those suggested by their medical care providers or parents
So there it is, the meningitis vaccination should be administered to all those who fit in the above-mentioned categories, for then and only then, can they rest assure they will be safe from infection even throughout an unfortunate breakout at their school or at after-school events.