Wednesday April 24 is World Meningitis Day.
Meningococcal disease is an aggressive illness that can lead to death within 24 to 48 hours after the onset of symptoms. About 1 in 10 of those with the disease will die despite treatment. The highest rates of meningococcal disease occur in the first year of life.
Meningitis has flu like symptoms. Early symptoms of meningitis are similar to flu symptoms, including fever, headache, stiff neck and vomiting3. Other symptoms can include confusion, light sensitivity and no interest in eating or drinking. If you notice these symptoms, seek medical attention.
Canadian children and young adults are most susceptible to meningitis. Children under one year of age and adolescents (15-19 years old) are among the age groups with the highest incidence of meningitis. College and university students are also susceptible to contracting meningitis because of their increased likelihood of sharing items such as drinks, utensils and cigarettes.
All vaccines to prevent against meningococcal disease are NOT the same. Most meningococcal infections are caused by five different strains, A, C, Y, W-135, and B. Vaccines are currently available against four of the five strains, A, C, Y and W-135, and a vaccine against the B strain is under review.
Canadian children who have received meningitis vaccines are NOT protected against all strains. Many Canadians feel that their children are protected against all meningococcal disease, however, this is a misconception. There is currently no protection available for meningitis B, however Health Canada is currently reviewing for approval and use for Canadians, the first meningitis B vaccine. This vaccine would be the final piece of the meningitis vaccination puzzle.
We are also encouraging parents to take the Meningitis Awareness Survey, which will be live until April 29th. This survey will provide insight into Canadians’ current perceptions and awareness of meningitis.
I participated in an information session to bring you this information. I was not compensated for this post.