Cases of meningococcemia intermittently occurring every year in different countries worldwide. In comparison to other diseases like colds and influenza, meningococcemia is not easy to catch and the risk is low.
Meningococcemia is a blood infection caused by the presence of the meningococcus bacteria, Neisseria meningitidis. It usually occurs without causing any symptoms and some people can become carriers and spread the diseases to others. The bacteria can make their way into the bloodstream and spread throughout the body, causing severe illness.
Meningococcemia is transmitted from person to person by airborne droplets coming from infected people who sneeze, cough, or talk near your face. Close prolonged contact is necessary for transmission to take place, sharing of utensils, drinking glasses and kissing to an infected person increase the chance of getting the disease.
Once a person get infected the symptoms can occur in two to ten days which can be of the following:
a) Sudden onset fever.
b) Cough, colds and sore throat.
c) Spotty, pinpoint red rashes could initially occur and then increase in number and size, these could later come together to form patches of purplish rashes.
d) Headache and changes in behavior or alertness.
In its early stage of infection, the doctor can't tell right away if the person has meningococcemia because the symptoms are similar to dengue, influenza and measles.
As the bacteria continue to multiply in the bloodstreams within hours , the following symptoms may appear:
a) Continued fever
b) Shaking chills
c) Large bleeding area on the skin
e) Low blood pressure
f) In its most severe form it may cause bleeding that may damage internal organs.
Meningococcemia can cause damage to the blood vessels and clotting inside these vessels. If the clotting occurs in larger arteries, it results in major tissue damage.
There is a high risk of death from complications that include:
a) Profound and irreversible shock
b) Limb loss secondary to clots (thrombosis resulting in gangrene)
To prevent you from the disease, herewith are protective measures one has to undertake:
a) Avoid close contact with infected people.
b) Stay away from crowded places.
c) Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.
d) Don't use the eating utensils and drinking glasses of an infected person.
e) Wash hands frequently with soap and water.
f) Eat a well balanced, healthy diet.
g) Exercise regularly.
h) Get enough rest and sleep.
i) Avoid alcohol and cigarette smoking.
j) Keep your surroundings clean.
The infection rate of meningococcemia is very low compared to other disease like dengue, tuberculosis and measles.
Vaccination for meningococcemia is a good prevention. If you suspect that you may have symptoms of meningococcemi, see a doctor or go to a hospital right away.
Diagnosis through blood cultures is the best way to determine and confirm if you have the disease.
Early treatment with antibiotics can save your life. Don't self medicate or wait that things to get worse. It is important to note that meningococcemia is a treatable and preventable disease.
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