Meningococcal disease

Background

Bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis cause meningococcal disease.  Ten percent of people have these bacteria in the back of their nose and lead to meningococcal disease. There are five serogroups (types) of Neisseria meningitidis, namely A, B, C, W, and Y, that cause most disease worldwide.  Serogroups A, B, C, W, Y, X and Z all occur in South Africa.  In 2003, serogroup A was predominant (0.2 /100 000) but numbers declined steadily and no cases have been reported since 2010. From 2004 to 2012, serogroup W emerged as the predominant serogroup with a peak in incidence in 2006 at 0.7/100 000. Serogroup B disease is the second most common serogroup and incidence has averaged at 0.13/100 000. (1) 

Transmission

There is often widespread panic when a case of meningococcal disease has been declared. But the fact is, that Neisseria meningitidis bacteria do not spread easily, and one identified case in the community does not justify the need for widespread vaccination. The CDC :

" The bacteria are spread by exchanging respiratory and throat secretions (saliva or spit) during close (for example, coughing or kissing) or lengthy contact, especially if living in the same household. Fortunately, these bacteria are not as contagious as germs that cause the common cold or the flu. The bacteria are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningococcal disease has been." (2)

Passive smoking, intimate personal contact (kissing), pub attendance, overcrowding, the attendance of mass gatherings and previous antibiotic use increase your risk of carriage. (3)   This is why it is so important to take care of your health and use alternative practitioners for all primary health care related concerns. Antibiotics should be avoided and only used in rare exceptions as they weaken our immune system and we end up being more susceptible to invasive infections like meningococcal disease. Average incidence in the South African population over the past decade is 1 per 100 000 people, with a peak of 8 per 100 000 people in infants.

Symptoms

Urgent medical intervention is required for anyone with suspected of meningococcal disease. The most common complications of meningococcal infections are meningitis (Meningococcal meningitis) and septicemia (Meningococcemia), it is extremely serious and can be fatal.

The most common symptoms of Meningococcal meningitis include:

  • Fever

  • Headache

  • Stiff neck

Additional symptoms can include:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Photophobia (eyes being more sensitive to light)

  • Altered mental status 

 

Symptoms of meningococcal septicemia, aka meningococcemia may include:

  • Fever

  • Fatigue

  • Vomiting

  • Cold hands and feet

  • Severe aches or pain in the muscles, joints, chest or abdomen

  • Rapid respiration rate

  • Diarrhea

  • In the later stages, a dark purple rash develops, the rash doesn't fade when you apply pressure to the skin, one can use a drinking glass to perform this test.

Diagnosis

It is hard to differentiate between meningococcal disease and the common cold in the early stages as symptoms are so similar.

What we would like to do is remind you that meningococcal disease is extremely rare, but if suspected hospital admission is required so medical personal can collect blood and do a lumbar puncture to collect CSF ( cerebrospinal fluid) samples, this is then sent for laboratory diagnosis. 

 

Treatment

Antibiotic treatment is required for meningococcal disease but we still recommend a consult with your homeopathic doctor or naturopath or functional medical practitioner so they can offer complimentary remedies and herbs to help with recovery.

Discussion

Asymptomatic nasopharyngeal colonization is common with various pathogens. As with all diseases, the outcome following colonisation depends on the virulence of the specific strain as well as the host’s immune response. Susceptibility is increased by processes affecting the immune systems integrity - environmental exposures, emotional stressors and nutritional factors all play a role. It is imperative that we strive to maintain health and wellness through a holistic approach, by avoiding unnecessary pharmaceutical intervention, which, when over used, disrupts the immune systems integrity and renders one susceptible to dis-ease.