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PIA Press Release

The truth about Meningococcemia

by Beatrice Carla Magnaye

Davao City (19 January) -- Meningococcemia is known today as a dreaded disease. It has been all over the television, radio and newspapers. But what are the facts behind this disease that seems to frighten everyone?

What is meningococcemia?

Neisseria Meningitides is the bacteria that cause Meningococcemia. According to Dr. Yvette Bares, a specialist from the infectious Disease Division of the Davao Medical Center, Neisseria Meningitides lives in 10% of ordinary people. It actually stays in the personís throat but does not cause an ailment. It is only when the person has a low body resistance that these bacteria can cause sickness. These bacteria can cause 3 kinds of diseases. The first one is when the infection spreads in the personís brain or what is commonly known as meningitis. The second one is when the Neisseria Meningitides bacteria move into the bloodstream and spreads through the whole body. This is called the Meningococcemia. The third one, Fulminant Meningococcemia, is the worst kind since it can cause death.


What are the symptoms of Meningococcemia? The very first symptom of Meningococcemia is high fever. The temperature of a sick person could be 38 degrees or higher. Within 24 Ė 48 hours, it is followed by a spread of rashes usually on legs and trunk. In some cases, a person may have signs of meningitis such as stiff neck, convulsion, delirium, altered mental status and vomiting.


Meningococcemia is easy to terminate. Doctors prescribe patients with an affordable medicine, Penicillin. The earlier the disease is detected, the easier it is to terminate. Within 24 hours after the detection of the disease, the patient could be given something for relief of cure. Meningococcemia patients can be given medicines unlike SARS or Bird Flu patients. SARS and Bird Flu are both viral infections; therefore no medicines can be given to patients.

Prevention is better than cure

Learning what is meningococcemia and how it is acquired and transmitted is not enough. It is better to know how to protect yourself from such disease. It is very important to keep high body resistance. One should eat nutritious food, like fruits and vegetables, take enough sleep and rest and have regular exercise. Proper hygiene and sanitation is also very important. Taking vitamins and food supplements are also helpful in keeping oneself healthy. While it is important to keep your bodies clean, it is also of great importance to keep your environment clean.

Process of Transmission

Meningococcemia can be transmitted through dropletsí infection through the air, which should also be very, very near. One should be very close to sick patient, as in 2 feet or 1 meter away, for him/her to acquire meningococemia. Getting in contact with the secretions of the sick patient, like the saliva, can also transmit the bacteria. The bacteria can also spread from a sick patient to another individual through coughing, sneezing and kissing. According to Dr. Cunanan,

People should not share those things that are in contact with the mouth as it may transmit the bacteria from one person to another.

Misconception on Meningococcemia

Dr. Bares stated that people think Meninococcemia is a new ailment like SARS or Bird Flu, which frightened everyone. According to her, this disease has been here in the Philippines even before. Dr. Cunanan added that Meningococcemia is an old infection given new attention. He said that it is just like an ordinary disease like rabies or tetanus, which has long been present in our surroundings. This disease only attacks when people do not take care of themselves. Some carriers of these bacteria do not get sick because they have high body resistance and their bodies have already developed anti-bodies against Meningococcemia.

In a suspected case of Meningococcemia in Lubocan, people avoided passing by the house of the suspected sick patient, thinking they might acquire the disease. Dr. Cunanan points out that; ď you donít acquire meningococcemia just by passingby or even when you are in the same room with the patientĒ. He added that the stories like this would only create a lot of panic among the people.

Another wrong concept about these bacteria is that clothes brought from ukay-ukay in Baguio can be carriers of the bacteria. Specialists said that the bacteria could not survive outside the human body because Meningococcus does not thrive on inanimate objects like clothes.

In any given situation, you should be very careful on the information you see and hear. Enough information is needed in order to fully understand what Meningococcemia is. Knowing its symptoms can help detect if any of your family members have the disease. Understanding its mode of transmission and learning the ways in order to avoid it can be very helpful to all. Remember that there is no reason to panic if we know these things. (PIA) [top]

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