What is meningococcal disease? Why is it so dangerous?

Meningococcal disease is a potentially fatal illness that it provokes, are considered in medicine as an emergency. For example, it is the bacterial form of meningitis, plus a number of other extremely dangerous diseases.

What you need to know about meningococcal disease?

Meningococcal disease is known since ancient times. About it is mentioned уVIIст. to n. e, and the first more or less detailed description was given in the middle of the XVII century. We are talking about bacteria, which is transmitted by airborne droplets from person to person. The infection may spread from the throat through the blood stream to the human brain, which is the most dangerous. A person can be a carrier of meningococcal disease, without knowing it, and infect others, while remaining healthy.

The most terrible meningococcal disease for children under 5 years as they are not able to develop immunity against it. That is why 80% of patients on the disease that causes this bacterium is small children.

Meningococcal disease can cause the following diseases:

  • nasopharyngitis, which is manifested as runny nose;
  • meningitis – inflammation of meninges;
  • meningococcal sepsis is when bacteria gets into the blood;
  • pneumonia – inflammation of the lungs;
  • endocarditis – inflammation of the inner lining of the heart;
  • arthritis – inflammation of joints;
  • iridocyclitis – inflammation of the iris.

Meningococcal meningitis begins as a common cold, then join symptoms such as severe headache, stiff neck and other muscles, loss of consciousness, photophobia, vomiting, increased body temperature. Also appear internal bleeding that manifest specific lesions on the body. Severe intoxication often leads to a violation of cardiovascular activity, breathing, and ultimately death. There are fulminant form of meningitis, when the disease develops so rapidly that the patient cannot be saved. Meningococcal sepsis is also a serious, deadly disease.

Particularly vivid symptom of the presence in the body of meningococcal disease is a rash that appear at the end of the 1st – beginning of 2nd day of the disease. They disappear when pressure is applied, spread throughout the body. Then the nature of the rash is changing: they become crimson-red color with a bluish tint, not disappearing upon pressure, localized mostly on buttocks, thighs, legs and feet.

Treatment and complications

Even the slightest suspicion of meningococcal infection requires immediate treatment and hospitalization. Minimal loss of time can be fatal. To confirm the diagnosis in a patient taking a spinal tap. If the presence of this infection in the body was confirmed, the patient urgently begin treatment with antibiotics.

If untreated, meningococcal disease in 50% of cases causes death of the patient. And even if early diagnosis and start of treatment approximately 16% of patients dying within 1-2 days after the onset of symptoms. From 10 to 20% of surviving patients get complications such as brain damage, hearing loss, mental retardation.

How to protect against meningococcal disease?

The only effective preventive measure to prevent meningococcal disease is vaccination. The effectiveness of the vaccine is about 90%, the immunity lasts for 3-5 years. It is recommended to vaccinate children under 5 years who are most vulnerable to infection. In Ukraine, this vaccination is not compulsory, however, parents at their own expense can vaccinate children, the vaccine is in pharmacies.