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Bacterial meningitis: life-threatening meningitis caused by meningococci


World Meningitis Day draws attention to the dangers of meningococci

Fortunately, meningococcal diseases are extremely rare in Germany - there are only about five cases per million people annually, but a young girl in Hesse only died a few weeks ago from the consequences of severe meningitis (bacterial meningitis). On World Meningitis Day, health experts draw attention to the dangers posed by meningococci.

Bacteria are usually transmitted by droplet infection

Meningococci are bacteria that settle in the nasopharynx of humans and, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), can be detected there in about ten percent of the population without any clinical symptoms. They are most commonly transmitted as a droplet infection. When talking, coughing or sneezing, the bacteria escape into the air in small droplets from the nasopharynx and can be inhaled from a short distance. Among other things, the pathogens can lead to bacterial meningitis. This is rare, but dangerous. This is pointed out by health experts on the occasion of World Meningitis Day.

Acute danger to life

The tenth World Meningitis Day will take place on April 24, 2018. On this occasion, the nationwide campaign "Meningitis moves." Pregnant women and parents draw particular attention to bacterial meningitis, which mostly infants and toddlers fall ill.

According to a statement, meningococcal meningitis is unknown to many, but is progressing much faster than viral meningitis.

Within 24 hours of the appearance of the first symptoms, there can be an acute danger to life. Education about the symptoms and early vaccination can protect.

Infection often leads to blood poisoning or meningitis

The number of meningococcal cases is low compared to other childhood diseases. Last year there were 278 meningococcal diseases in Germany.

However, this is no consolation for the families concerned. For them, meningococcal infection often means lifelong impairment.

About a third of meningococcal cases lead to blood poisoning (sepsis). In two thirds of infections, meningitis occurs.

Basically everyone can get a meningococcal infection. However, it most often affects infants in the first year of life, small children or adolescents.

"The incubation period is usually 3 to 4 days, but it can also be between 2 and 10 days," says the RKI.

Disease can be fatal

Despite medical treatment, up to one in ten patients may experience a meningococcal infection. Among other things, survivors struggle with long-term consequences such as deafness, learning difficulties or other cognitive problems.

"Seeing a toddler struggling with a meningococcal infection is an image that a doctor will never forget," explains pediatrician Dr. from desert.

He has witnessed a meningococcal case and supports the campaign "Meningitis moves." As an expert.

Vaccines available

Vaccines are available against all five serogroups occurring in Germany - A, B, C, W135 and Y. The Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) recommends vaccination against meningococcal C from the age of 12 months.

STIKO also recommends vaccination against serogroup B for people with impaired immune function or close contact with a person suffering from meningococcal disease. A general recommendation is still pending.

However, meningococcal B vaccination is publicly recommended in the federal states of Saxony and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania as well as in Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, Brandenburg, Thuringia and Bavaria.

Many health insurance companies cover the costs

Over 60 percent of health insurance companies are now reimbursing the costs on request. Vaccination against the comparatively rare serogroups A, W135 or Y is recommended if there is a risk to health or when traveling to risk areas.

"When the health of the little ones is at stake, it is a great challenge for everyone," explains TV presenter Shary Reeves, who is campaigning for the campaign.

In order to be able to react quickly to an infection, parents, grandparents and day care staff should be able to correctly interpret the symptoms of meningococcal infection such as fever, headache, nausea and neck stiffness.

The online portal "Meningitis moves." Offers extensive information and a practical symptom check card to download for your wallet. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: Meningococcal Animation (August 2020).