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Meningococcal disease is caused by infection with Neisseria meningitidis of which there are several serogroups (different variations) – A, B, C, W and Y. Meningococcal often causes meningitis.
Meningitis means inflammation of the membranes ‘meninges’ lining
the brain. The two most common types of meningitis are bacterial and viral;
Bacterial meningitis is the most common life-threatening type
of meningitis and can cause death within hours. Most cases
of bacterial meningitis in children and adults are caused by
meningococcal and pneumococcal bacteria. In newborn babies, the most common causes of bacterial meningitis include Group B streptococcal, E
coli, and Listeria bacteria.
Viral meningitis is quite a common complication of some
common viral illnesses e.g. herpes simplex virus, echovirus. Viral
meningitis is rarely fatal and not usually injurious unless the
patient also has an immune disease.
Sepsis – which we also need to mention here – is a medical emergency and needs immediate treatment. It happens when the body is fighting an infection but it starts to attack itself. Sepsis can damage many parts of the body and can even cause death.
In other words, meningococcal infection can lead to meningitis, and also sepsis. Read more about sepsis here.
The symptoms of Meningococcal disease:
And in children, the symptoms above can also be noted with;
Note that these more common symptoms may follow less specific symptoms including leg pain, cold hands and abnormal skin colour.
The Symptoms of Meningitis:
If your little one is showing symptoms of meningococcal disease or meningitis, seek medical attention urgently, especially if there is persistent fever, irritability, drowsiness or lethargy, a child is not feeding normally, or symptoms have come on or worsened very quickly. Do not wait for all symptoms or the rash to appear.
How are they spread?
Vaccination is the best way to prevent meningococcal and meningitis. Vaccines include:
Check with your GP or your state immunisation program 1800 671 811 if you have any questions about these vaccines.
References and resources:
In this video paediatric nurse and founder of CPR Kids Sarah Hunstead steps you through the prevention, recognition and response to choking in babies and children. Essential knowledge for every family that you don’t want to miss.
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