Ireland health officials are warning the public to be vigilant regarding meningococcal meningitis/septicemia as there has been a noted increase in meningococcal disease in the country in the last two weeks.
Since the last week of December, 11 cases, including three fatalities have been reported. Provisional data on the strain types identified since week 52 2018 indicates that different strains of the organism are circulating and causing disease.
According to Dr Suzanne Cotter, Specialist in Public Health Medicine, HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre, “Although meningococcal disease incidence generally increases in the winter months, the recent increase is cause for concern and the HSE wishes to alert the public to the signs and symptoms of this disease so that immediate medical attention can be sought if someone has symptoms that could be caused by this bug.
“If anyone has any concerns about meningitis they should ring their GP in the first instance. Meningitis and septicaemia often happen together and symptoms can appear in any order. Some may not appear at all. Early symptoms can include; fever, headache, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pain, stomach cramps, fever with cold hands and feet and a rash, but do not wait for the rash to appear. If someone is ill and getting worse, get medical help immediately.
“Parents of children should also check that they are up-to-date regarding their childhood meningococcal vaccinations.”
Meningococcal meningitis is a serious bacterial infection that causes infection of the tissue surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Most people recover from meningitis, however, serious complications, including death, can occur in as little as a few hours if left untreated. It is treated with antibiotics.
Some of the most common symptoms of meningococcal meningitis include fever, severe headache or stiff neck, extreme fatigue, light sensitivity and/or confusion.
The HSE advises that if anyone has any concerns or showing symptoms, they should contact their GP in the first instance but ensure that medical expertise is sought.
Parents of children should ensure that they have received all their vaccines on time. A vaccine that protects against meningococcal C disease (MenC vaccine) is given at 6 months and at 13 months and meningococcal B vaccine (MenB vaccine) is given at 2, 4, and 12 months of age. In addition adolescents are routinely offered the MenC vaccine in the first year of secondary school. Older teenagers and young adults up to the age of 23 years who never received a MenC vaccine are recommended to get the vaccine.
A drop in the uptake of meningococcal vaccines among children has been noted in recent years. In Q2 2018, the uptake of MenC (first dose) for babies at 12 months was 90% in Q2 2018; the uptake for two doses of MenB at 12 months was 93% and the uptake of MenC at 24 months was 88%. Among adolescents (1st year in secondary school) the uptake of MenC vaccine during the 2016-2017 academic year was 83.9%.
- Antibiotic recall: Lupin pulls ceftriaxone; particulate matter found in reconstituted vials
- Why does there continue to be resistance to vaccines? Ever heard of hysteresis?
- Infectious disease bric-a-bracs: C. difficile-NSAID link, unique Staph strain
- How to prevent common skin conditions at the gym
- Measles in New York: Largest outbreak since elimination
- Norovirus activity up in Michigan, Residents urged to take precautions
- Western Australia reports 3 meningococcal disease cases