Meningococcal Disease

Meningococcal Disease
Meningococcal disease is a rare but very serious illness that usually appears as meningitis or septicaemia, ‘Meningitis’ means an inflammation of the protective coverings of the brain and spinal cord and ‘Septicaemia’ means blood poisoning, which is a more widespread infection throughout the body. Meningococcal disease appears periodically in every country the world, it has developed into scattered epidemics in Africa and pandemics in Asia.
Meningococcal disease is caused by bacteria called ‘meningococci’. Meningococci are common bacteria, and about one in ten people carry them at the back of the throat or nose. Carriers are more often young adults, and less often children and older people. Meningococci are only found in people, and never in animals or the general environment because the Meningococcal bacteria can only infect humans and have never been isolated from animals since the bacteria cannot get iron other than from human sources.
Meningococcal disease is uncommon, however it is a very serious disease. The infection can develop very quickly, and can be fatal in about 10% of cases. If the infection is diagnosed early enough and the right antibiotics are given quickly, most people make a complete recovery.
About a quarter of people who recover experience after-effects, some of the more common after-effects include headaches, deafness in one or both ears, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), blurring, double vision, aches, stiffness in the joints, and learning difficulties. However most of these problems will get better with time.
Meningococcal disease can occur at any age, however babies, children less than 5 years, teenagers and young adults aged 15–24 years of age are most at risk. Persons over the age of two years with a damaged (or no) spleen are at greater risk of meningococcal disease and therefore should be vaccinated against the disease.
People who get meningococcal disease are more than three times as likely to be in close...