Meningitis is an infectious disease caused by a virus, bacterium or fungus that can be fatal (see symptoms below). According to experts, the most effective way to fight the disease is through vaccination, which is available at dozens of federal public health units.
World Meningitis Day, celebrated this Sunday (24th), addresses the importance of raising awareness of the disease. According to the Ministry of Health, the disease can affect all age groups, but children under the age of five are the most affected.
- See where to be vaccinated against meningitis in DF
The most serious type of disease is a bacterium, mainly meningococcus, which is considered to be the most serious form of the disease along with pneumococci. According to Maria Isabel de Moraes Pinto, an infectious disease specialist, meningitis is curable, but early diagnosis is essential for successful treatment and reduction of consequences.
Vaccination is the best way to prevent meningitis, according to the expert, and it is therefore essential to keep the vaccination record up to date. “It is imperative to get a vaccine against a disease that can be so serious,” he confirms.
The main symptoms of bacterial meningitis caused by meningococcal, pneumococcal and haemophilic bacteria are:
- High fever;
- neck stiffness;
- Nausea and vomiting,
According to the DF’s Ministry of Health, the patient’s skin may also show signs such as drowsiness, mental disorders and red and / or purple spots. Over time, some of the more serious symptoms of meningitis may develop. These include seizures, delusions, tremors and even coma.
Meningitis is a contagious disease and is transmitted through the airways from one person to another, through secretions from the nose and throat when speaking or coughing.
There are five different types of vaccines available at federal public health centers to help protect against different types of meningitis:
- Meningococcal C conjugate vaccine: protects against diseases caused by serogroup C Neisseria meningitidis.
- 10-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine: protects against invasive diseases caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, including meningitis.
- Pentavalent vaccine: protects against invasive diseases caused by Haemophilus influenzae serotype b, such as meningitis, as well as diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and hepatitis B.
- BCG vaccine: protection against severe forms of tuberculosis, including tuberculosis meningitis. The schedule is a single dose.
- Triple virus vaccine: protects against meningitis caused by the mumps, measles and rubella virus as a complication of these diseases.
Meningitis Vaccine – Photo: Ascom / SMS
In order to prevent the disease, in addition to keeping the vaccination card up to date, measures include:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol gel;
- Maintain strict hygiene of household goods;
- Do not share items for personal use;
- Cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze;
- Avoid direct contact with patients’ breathing drops and saliva.
Doctors also recommend that environments, especially classrooms, workplaces, and public transportation, be kept airy and well-ventilated.
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