On Monday morning, a child was admitted to our hospital with a high-grade fever that the mother claimed had started the previous night. Over the last 17 hours, the poor child was not taking any feeds and seemed to hate being touched, which was breaking his mother's heart, confused as she was about why the paediatricians were looking so grim for 'just a fever.'

When I came to the ward on Tuesday morning, the child's bed was empty. The nurses informed us that the child passed away the previous night. From the start of the first symptom to the demise of the child, the timeline had barely crossed 24 hours.

That was my first experience as a doctor seeing a patient suffering from meningococcal meningitis. And I have not forgotten it even 15 years later.

Preventive measures against meningococcal meningitis in India includes both vaccination and hygiene.


Of the 1 million people and more who are affected by meningitis every year across the world, the bacterial version is the most common and severe, causing over 1,70,000 deaths every year.

What really hurts is that often by the time the parents suspect that this is not just a normal fever, it is already too late. From unassuming initial symptoms including fever, headache and vomiting, the symptoms progress rapidly in the span of just 24 hours to include a severe headache, irritability, neck rigidity and seizures. Death can occur in as little as a few hours.

15% of the children who survive an episode of meningococcal meningitis are left with life-long disabilities including hearing loss, seizures and brain damage. 


Early diagnosis and quick treatment offer some benefit but for me, it always comes down to recommending preventive measures to parents. And in this case, that means both vaccination as well as hygiene.

In India, is the Meningococcal meningitis vaccine mandatory? 


No, but the meningococcal vaccines is recommended for high risk populations. It is the missing link in providing comprehensive protection (if your child is already immunised against causative agents like S. Pneumoniae and H. Influenzae type B) against the 3 most commonly known types of acute bacterial meningitis mentioned above. It can be given to children as young as 9 months of age.

Step, for a moment, back in time and into the shoes of that young mother who watched her child laughing and playing normally on a Sunday morning and then had to watch the boy she loved die on a Monday night due to a vaccine-preventable disease. It is something I would not want to wish upon any parent.

As doctors in the real world, we may not be able to sit for hours and educate every new parent. But it is imperative we use every means possible to make young parents aware, including social media.

Feel free to ask me any doubts here.

Join the movement against Meningococcal Meningitis today!

Disclaimer: 

The views expressed in the blog content are independent and unbiased views solely of the blogger. This is a part of public awareness initiative on meningitis supported by Sanofi Pasteur India. Sanofi Pasteur bears no responsibility for the content of the blog. One should consult their healthcare provider for any health-related information. This article is meant to help create awareness and spread knowledge. Any decision regarding your health and child's health should be done after consultation with your doctor. While all efforts are made to keep articles updated, the speed of research in these fields mean the information often may change when more research knowledge is available. Godyears or the authors should be in no way held responsible in that case.

13 Comments

  1. I really had never heard of this disease before. Shocking to read that nearly 2 lakh are dying from it every single year

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    Replies
    1. The numbers would have been so much higher if children weren't being vaccinated.

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  2. That's really sad, good that you are writing about it. Hopefully it'll create the required awareness.

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    1. I feel some amount of basic awareness on these topics needs to be shared by doctors too to the general public.

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  3. I had no knowledge of this disease till I came across a twitter chat discussing awareness about the same. It is quite scary but also good to know it is preventable.

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    1. The key with Meningococcal Meningitis is always PREVENTION. trying to correct it once the symptoms develop is quite difficult.

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  4. For these illnesses, awareness is the only way to prevent it. I was not familiar with these illnesses till my husband got encephalitis and since then, it scares me like hell.

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    1. I am so sorry to hear this. Hope he's doing okay.

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  5. I had no idea about something like this. It is good that you are creating awareness about it. With prevention is this can be avoided, people need to be educated more.

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    1. Prevention is always the best option with Meningococcal Meningitis. And yes, most people are not at all aware of it even today. A simple vaccination done at the right time can make the difference between life and death

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  6. I am glad you are spreading awareness about this vaccination. It is so important for the kids to be properly vaccinated.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks. Once you see a child die because of a disease which was Prevent able, you will feel that need to do everything to get the public to (in this case) ensure their children get vaccinated.

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  7. This sounds scary. I think it is important to create more awareness about this.

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So what do you think ?