5 Dead Due To Meningococcal Disease in US: Expert Provides Comprehensive Insight

The vast majority, 85.3%, of deaths related to Meningococcal Disease occur within 24 hours of diagnosis, with the remaining fatalities happening within 30 days of diagnosis.

5 Dead Due To Meningococcal Disease in US: Expert Shares Everything You Need To Know About This Rare Disease
5 Dead Due To Meningococcal Disease in US: Expert Shares Everything You Need To Know About This Rare Disease

The United States has been experiencing a concerning uptick in cases of Meningococcal Disease (MD), according to recent reports from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). Since June 2022, 27 cases of the disease have been identified across eastern, central, and southwest Virginia, resulting in five fatalities due to MD-related complications.

A study conducted by the Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) revealed that a staggering 85.3% of MD-related deaths occur within 24 hours of diagnosis, with the remaining fatalities occurring within 30 days. The study underscored that approximately one out of every 10 individuals who contract the disease succumbs to it.

India has also witnessed outbreaks of MD, as highlighted in a study by researchers from Pfizer Limited. The study noted, “The disease remains endemic in India, with major outbreaks reported in Delhi (2005-08), Meghalaya (2008-09), and Tripura (2009) over the last 25 years.” This indicates that MD remains prevalent in India, yet it is often underestimated and underreported.

Given the alarming spread of MD, there is a pressing need for heightened awareness. In light of this, Healthonlyfotyou interviewed Dr. Hari Kishan Boorugu, Consultant Physician & Diabetologist at Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad, to shed light on this critical issue.

Gaining Insight into Meningococcal Disease

Gaining Insight into Meningococcal Disease

Meningococcal disease, though rare, is a severe illness that can impact individuals of all age groups. Dr. Boorugu explained, “Meningococcal disease is caused by a bacterium known as Neisseria meningitidis. This bacterium, specific to humans, spreads through respiratory and throat secretions, entering the bloodstream and reaching the brain.” He emphasized that despite treatment, patients can deteriorate rapidly and succumb to the disease.

Dr. Boorugu outlined some symptoms and potential outcomes of MD, including:

  • Meningitis or brain infection
  • High fever
  • Severe headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Confusion
  • Skin rash
  • Shock
  • Damage to multiple organs
  • Death

Furthermore, Dr. Boorugu highlighted that MD can manifest sporadically or in epidemics. Close contact with an infected individual significantly increases the risk of acquiring the infection and contributes to periodic outbreaks of MD.

Preventing and Treating Meningococcal Disease

Preventing and Treating Meningococcal Disease

Dr. Boorugu emphasized the critical importance of prompt diagnosis and timely antibiotic treatment to mitigate the morbidity and mortality associated with Meningococcal Disease (MD). This advice aligns with the guidance provided by the Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF).

Furthermore, Dr. Boorugu underscored the significance of timely diagnosis, stating, “There is often a delay in diagnosing MD, which can have fatal consequences.” He highlighted several reasons for this delay, including nonspecific symptoms that could be indicative of various diseases, lack of awareness about MD, and hesitation in seeking treatment.

These insights underscore the urgent need to raise public awareness about the signs, symptoms, and prevention of this bacterial disease. Dr. Boorugu outlined the following risk factors:

  • Adolescents and young adults are at a slightly higher risk.
  • Individuals residing in close quarters, such as college students in dormitories or military personnel in barracks, face a slightly elevated risk.
  • People with HIV, other immune deficiencies, or those without a functioning spleen are at increased risk.
  • Traveling to areas with high rates of MD can elevate the risk of contracting the disease.

Preventing Meningococcal Disease

Like many infectious diseases, Meningococcal Disease (MD) spreads from person to person, but fortunately, a vaccine is available to combat it. In Virginia, most of those who succumbed to the disease had not received this vaccine. Dr. Boorugu outlined precautions that everyone, especially those at high risk, should take:

  • Practice droplet precautions such as wearing a mask and maintaining hand hygiene to minimize transmission risk.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing to prevent germ spread.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle to bolster your immune system.
  • Vaccines are available to protect against various types of meningococcal bacteria.
  • Prevent severe infections by vaccinating and administering medication to close contacts of infected individuals within 24 hours.

In conclusion, raising awareness about MD is crucial to empower individuals with knowledge and preventive measures against this rare but potentially devastating bacterial infection. Vigilance is particularly important when traveling to regions where the risk of contracting MD is high. Understanding symptoms and risk factors enables early diagnosis and treatment. Vaccination remains the most effective means of protection against MD, emphasizing the importance of staying informed and safe.