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April 10, 2018 10 things you don't know about meningitis
Article Pages -- as published on the The Kalona News website.

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ARTICLE DESCRIPTION:

(BPT) - By Jamie Schanbaum, GSK spokesperson, U.S. Para-athlete and meningitis survivor

Before I contracted bacterial meningitis in 2008, I had never heard of it. I didn’t know how it was transmitted, what the symptoms were or how to help prevent it. After spending seven months in the hospital and losing all my fingers and both legs below the knee, I learned as much as I could about meningococcal disease. Now I want others to know what I didn’t.

Meningococcal meningitis, often referred to as meningitis, is an inflammation of the protective membranes, or meninges, covering the brain and spinal cord.[1]About one in 10 people carry the bacteria, Neisseria meningitidis, that can cause meningitis. These bacteria live in the back of the nose and throat. People who have the bacteria without any signs or symptoms of the disease are called “carriers.”[2]Meningitis is uncommon but can be fatal. About one in 10 people infected with meningococcal disease will die.[3]About one in five meningitis survivors will suffer long-term disability, such as loss of limbs (like me), brain damage, deafness and nervous system problems.[4]Young adults, including college students and those living in close quarters, are at increased risk for meningitis due to close contact with each other, sharing drinks or eating utensils, kissing or even just coughing.[5],[6] I was 20 years old and in my first semester at the University of Texas when I contracted meningitis. I didn’t know about this increased risk.Early symptoms may be similar to those of a cold or the flu, but can progress quickly and can be fatal, or cause disability within 24 hours.[7],[8] Symptoms can include fever, headache and stiff neck as well as nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and confusion.[9] Everyone’s symptoms can be slightly different, however. For example, I had nausea and vomiting, but also felt exhausted. My hands and feet were extremely sensitive to touching cold objects, like the sink faucet and tile floors. In just 14 hours, I went from thinking I had the flu to being admitted to the hospital. My experience may not be the same as others, so it’s important to know all the possible signs and symptoms and to seek medical help quickly.There are five different vaccine-preventable serogroups of meningitis – A, B, C, W and Y. Groups B, C and Y are the most common groups of meningitis in the U.S.[10]There are two different types of vaccines needed to help protect against the five vaccine-preventable serogroups of meningitis.[11] It’s important to know that even if you’ve had a vaccine for serogroups A, C, W and Y, you need a different vaccine to help protect against serogroup B.[12]Despite the availability of serogroup B meningococcal vaccination since 2014, less than 10 percent of teens and young adults have been vaccinated, even though serogroup B accounts for 30 percent of all meningitis cases in the U.S.[13],[14]The CDC says all 11- to 12-year-olds should be vaccinated against meningitis A, C, W and Y and recommends a booster at age 16. Additionally, the CDC says teens and young adults (ages 16 through 23) also may be vaccinated against meningitis B, preferably at 16 through 18 years of age. Though vaccination may not protect all recipients, it’s the best way to help prevent the disease.[15],[16]

I consider myself to be very fortunate not only because I survived, but also because now I have an opportunity to educate others. I encourage parents of teens and young adults to talk to their child’s healthcare provider about meningitis and the two different types of vaccines needed to help protect against the disease.

[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meningitis. March 28, 2018. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/meningitis/index.html. Page 1, Paragraph 1.

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meningococcal Disease. Causes and Spread to Others. March 28, 2018. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/about/causes-transmission.html/, Page 1, Paragraph 1.

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meningococcal Disease: Technical and Clinical Information. June 2016. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/clinical-info.html. Page 1, Paragraph 4, Lines 1-3.

[4] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meningococcal Disease: Technical and Clinical Information. June 2016. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/clinical-info.html. Page 1, Paragraph 4, Lines 1-3.

[5] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meningococcal Disease. March 28, 2017. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/about/causes-transmission.html. Page 1, Paragraph 3.

[6] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Manual for the Surveillance of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases: Chapter 8: Meningococcal Disease. April 2014. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/surv-manual/chpt08-mening.html. Page 1, Paragraphs 10-12.

[7] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Manual for the Surveillance of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases: Chapter 8: Meningococcal Disease. April 2014. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/surv-manual/chpt08-mening.html. Page 1, Paragraphs 10-12.

[8] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meningococcal Disease: Signs & Symptoms. July 2016. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/about/symptoms.html. Page 1, Paragraphs 1- 2.

[9] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meningococcal Disease: Signs & Symptoms. July 2016. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/about/symptoms.html. Page 1, Paragraphs 1- 2.

[10] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meningococcal Disease. Causes and Spread to Others. March 28, 2018. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/about/causes-transmission.html/, Page 1, Paragraph 1

[11] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccine Information Statements (VISs): Meningococcal ACWY Vaccines (MenACWY and MPSV4) VIS. March 2016. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/mening.html. Page 1, Paragraph 6.

[12] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccine Information Statements (VISs): Meningococcal ACWY Vaccines (MenACWY and MPSV4) VIS. March 2016. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/mening.html. Page 1, Paragraph 6.

[13] GSK, data on file.

[14] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Manual for the Surveillance of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases: Chapter 8: Meningococcal Disease. April 2014. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/surv-manual/chpt08-mening.html. Page 1, Paragraph 3, Line 2.

[15] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meningococcal Vaccination. March 2018. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/mening/index.html. Page 1, Paragraph 2.

[16] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meningococcal Vaccination: What Everyone Should Know. March 2018. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/mening/public/index.html. Page 1, Paragraph 4.

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