This Sunday (24) is marked by the world meningitis day. The date is remembered to highlight the importance of prevention, vaccination, diagnosis, treatment and improvement of support measures for those dealing with the effects of the disease.
In Pernambuco, the most recent epidemiological bulletin made available by the State Health Department, which considers data updated on March 25, shows that five cases of meningococcal meningitis this year.
Among them, three cases were confirmed: one in Recife, another in Tamandaré (South Coast) and one more in Caetés (Agreste). In addition, of those notified, one has already been discarded and another is under investigation.
Among the confirmed cases of meningococcal disease this year in Pernambuco are a baby under 1 year of age and two patients aged 10 to 14 years.
In 2022, so far, no death has been recorded by meningococcal meningitis.
In the same period in 2021, five cases of meningococcal meningitis, one was confirmed and four discarded. Throughout 2021, 22 cases of meningococcal disease were reported. Of this total, 11 were confirmed and 11 discarded.
In 2021, in the same period, two deaths of patients residing in Água Preta (Mata Sul) and Iguaraci (Sertão) were recorded.
What is meningococcal meningitis?
Caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis, meningococcal meningitis is an infection of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. It is considered a potentially serious disease, which can leave sequelae in the patient and even lead to death within 24 hours.
Due to its severity and rapid evolution in the clinical picture, it is important for the population to know more about meningococcal meningitis.
Discover myths and truths about meningitis
There is only one type of meningitis
MYTH. THE meningitis It can be caused by several infectious agents, such as bacteria, fungi and viruses. In general, the bacterial meningitis are worrying and, among them, we highlight the meningococcal meningitiswhich is caused when the bacteria neisseria meningitidis (or meningococcus) reaches the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
Meningococcus has 12 identified types. Five of them are the most common: A, B, C, W and Y. When we look at all age groups, the serogroup with the highest incidence in Brazil is C.
In babies in the first year of life and children under 10 years of age, the serogroup B is the main cause of the disease.
Meningococcal meningitis is not such a common disease, but it is serious.
TRUTH. THE meningococcal meningitis can cause serious sequelae, such as amputations, and even lead to death. In 24 hours, the disease can change the course of the patient’s life: the rapid evolution and high lethality of meningococcal meningitis are some of the most worrying characteristics of the infection.
Like covid-19, meningococcal meningitis can be transmitted by respiratory droplets.
TRUTH. Meningococcus, the bacterium that causes meningococcal meningitiscan be transmitted from one person to another, by contact with droplets or respiratory secretions through cough, sneeze and kissfor example.
Meningococcal meningitis only affects babies and children.
MYTH. Despite affecting children, especially those under 5 years of age, Meningococcal meningitis can affect all age groups. In addition, up to 23% of adolescents and young adults can be carriers of meningococcus and can transmit the disease even without getting sick, being called asymptomatic carriers.
Initial symptoms of meningococcal meningitis can be confused with other infectious diseases
TRUTH. You early signs and symptoms gives meningococcal meningitis (including fever, irritability, headache, nausea and vomiting) can be confused with other infectious diseases.
Subsequently, the patient may have small purplish spots on the skin, stiffness in the back of the neck, and sensitivity to light.
If not treated quickly, the condition can progress to c.mental confusion, seizure, shock, generalized infection, multiple organ failure and risk of death.
Meningococcal meningitis has no cure
MYTH. If the disease is diagnosed quickly and appropriate treatment is initiated, the most patients can be completely cured. However, even with these steps, meningococcal meningitis has high lethality and can leave sequelae.
If left untreated, the disease is fatal in 20% to 30% of cases and, among survivors, 10% to 20% have some sequelae such as brain damage, hearing loss or limb amputation.
Vaccination is the main form of prevention against meningococcal meningitis.
TRUTH. THE vaccination is the main form of prevention against the disease. Currently, there are vaccines for the prevention of the five most common serogroups or types in Brazil: A, B, C, W and Y.
In health centers, the vaccine against the disease caused by meningococcus C is free for babies, with doses given at 3 and 5 months of age, and a booster at 12 months, which can be given to children under 5 years of age.
In addition, in order to increase protection against meningococcal disease, the National Immunization Program (PNI), of the Ministry of Health, expanded, until July 2022, the free vaccination against meningococcus C for all children under 11 years of age (up to 10 years, 11 months and 29 days) who have not yet received the immunizing agent.
The vaccine against serogroups A, C, W and Y is also available in PNI for teenagers between 11 and 12 years old.
In the private vaccination clinicsvaccine against serogroup B. The recommended doses are provided for 3 and 5 months, and one more between 12 and 15 months. However, they are available in the age group from 2 months old to 50 years old.
Private clinics still offer the ACWY vaccine, available from 2 months of age.
Vaccines are also available for other types of meningitis.
TRUTH. In addition to meningococcus, meningitis can also be caused by bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae (or pneumococcus)infectious agent of pneumococcal disease.
The National Immunization Program provides immunization with the 10-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV10) at 2 and 4 months, with a booster dose at 12 months, which can be applied to children under 5 years of age.
And in private networks, the 13-valent conjugate vaccine (PCV13), with a similar dose schedule of PCV10, and the 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV23), which is indicated for children over 2 years of age who have a problem health conditions that increase the risk for pneumococcal disease.
For children with special clinical indication, pneumococcal vaccination is available at the Reference Centers for Special Immunobiologicals (CRIEs) – public units with infrastructure and logistics to serve individuals with special clinical conditions, such as immunodeficiencies, chronic diseases and transplant recipients, among other conditions.
Another important cause of meningitis, in addition to meningococcus and pneumococcus, is bacterium Haemophilus influenzae type Bwhich can also be prevented through vaccination.
In addition, other forms of prevention include avoiding agglomerations and keeping environments ventilated and clean.