Meningococcemia, affects two thousand to four thousand people a year, most of them children under the age of five. Approximately 25 percent of the population carries bacteria in their respiratory tracts, but most never suffer from infection. Meningococcemia is passed from person to person through droplets released into the air during sneezing or coughing. Doctors are continuously studying on what makes some people susceptible to the bacteria while others can be exposed and never get sick.
Unfortunately, parents often mistake a meningococcemia infection for the flu, since the two ailments share the same symptoms, including fever, chills and fatigue. One marker of meningococcemia is the large bruise-like lesions that appear on the skin, and attack the inside organs. These lesions, the result of the leakage from the breakdown of inflamed blood vessels, inflict the same damage as a third-degree burn, and cause the body to go into shock and respiratory failure.
Although the disease has an incubation period of one to ten days, once the meningococcemia strikes, patients experience a rapid decline in health. If it is not diagnosed and treated immediately, meningococcemia is often fatal. “Vaccines have been developed but is not yet safe for children under two.” says Douglas Beal, M.D. “Early detection still offers the best chance of survival,” he adds. Dr. Beal encourages parents to pay close attention to their children’s symptoms: “If there’s ever the combination of a fever and rash of any sort, or your child is acting much sicker than what you’d expect for the flu, contact your doctor right away.
By Athena Goodlight on November 18th, 2009(Healthmad)