How a WhatsApp discussion led me to understand Meningococcal Meningitis!
We were heading towards the school exit when suddenly a lot of commotion could be seen and heard from the far distance. Teachers and ancillary staff were running to pick a student, who might have fallen due to a heat stroke. Summers in north India is hard, especially around mid-April and its scorching dry heat. Children getting heat stroke is common during afternoon or morning PT hours. We just brushed it off thinking it was a one-off case of heat stroke, we call it Loo-Lagna in Hindi.
Next day at school, we learned about the boy who fell in school the day before was from our class, but a different division. During lunch hour the Principal announced that the next day would be an off, in condolence of our dear student’s demise. Everyone wanted to know the details, but all we could acquire from staff was he succumbed to an extreme headache with fever at the hospital. That episode gave me chills till I learned the possible reason for that. A fatal disease called meningococcal meningitis.
What is Meningitis and is it deadly?
Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes (meninges) surrounding the brain and spinal cord. The swelling of meningitis triggers a headache, fever, and a stiff neck. Different types of meningitis have various triggers, and some are as common as cold and flu. Infants and children are at higher risk due to their immunity structure.
As a parent, our main focus should be on symptoms of meningitis. Early diagnosis can save lives and permanent mental or physical disability. The most aggressive form is bacterial meningitis. Fatal and spreads quickly, hence identifying or being alert for possible symptoms is crucial.
What should parents know about Meningitis?
At the beginning of motherhood or should we call it ‘confused new-mom phase’ I was not very sure of what is right or wrong for my child. Reading and listening to others imbalanced my already confused mind manifolds. Basic motherly instincts probed me to ask even the silliest of doubts, and I am glad that I was not shy about asking questions to the right people.
My daughter’s doctor was kind enough to give me time and explain in detail about the vaccines every child must take. However, the list looked quite confusing as some vaccines were optional. I reached out to her on WhatsApp and shared my worry. In the family, we had had a near-fatal case of meningitis fever which left the child with a partial mental disability. My worry was real, as would it pass on to my child? Or was there a possibility of her contracting it in the future?
The doctor explained to me in detail about the reasons for and the possibility of meningitis, and even if few vaccinations are termed as optional but are still critical for a child’s life. Parent’s awareness is decisive and helps to fight deadly diseases like meningococcal meningitis. If left untreated it has the capability to kill an otherwise healthy person in 24 hours.
She emphasized on discussion with pediatricians, asking questions on need and coverage preventive vaccination provides. Talk to the health experts, ask them the correct time to provide preventive vaccination to children and prevent fatal attacks. Let us take a pledge to safeguard our children from all such deadly diseases.
*Reference website http://www.comomeningitis.org/
The views expressed in the blog content are independent and unbiased views of solely the blogger. This is a part of public awareness initiative on meningococcal 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.
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