Monday, January 23, 2012

"Protect Infants Now" - Meningococcal Disease

As Mothers, I believe if there were but one thread that linked us, it would be that we will do anything to protect or children. You even see this to be true with wildlife. From the moment I found out there was a tiny life growing inside me, that protective nature just blossomed within.

Of course there will be many times our life that we will be unable to protect our child. I know I will never be able to protect my daughter from her first broken heart, but I do know, I can and will be there to comfort her. Of course, if there ever was a way for my to take my children's pain, fears or illnesses away, I will be first in line to take it . Until the time comes, when I can reflect all their hurt and sick onto myself, I will do whatever it takes to keep them safe, happy, and healthy. This is the reason why I chose to take part in the Protect Infants Now Campaign (PIN) and help raise awareness about Infant Meningococcal disease.

This was a disease always mentioned in our home from the time I was a child, as my own Mother lost a friend to Meningococcal disease,  also known as meningitis.

Meningococcal disease is a sudden and very aggressive illness that can kill a previously healthy child within 24-48 hours of the first symptoms, which typically start out as non-specific and mimic symptoms of the flu. Infants younger than one year old are at a disproportionately higher risk for contracting meningococcal meningitis due to their less sophisticated immune systems. Advanced bacterial meningitis can lead to brain damage, coma, and death. Survivors can suffer long-term complications, including hearing loss, mental retardation, paralysis, and seizures.

Facts About Meningitis
  • Bacterial meningitis is a serious infection of the fluid in the spinal cord and the fluid that surrounds the brain.
  • Bacterial meningitis is most commonly caused by one of three types of bacteria: Haemophilus influenzae type b, Neisseria meningitidis, and Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria.
  • The bacteria are spread by direct close contact with the discharges from the nose or throat of an infected person.
  • Bacterial meningitis can be treated with antibiotics.
  • Prevention depends on use of vaccines, rapid diagnosis, and prompt treatment of close personal contacts
Facts provided by  Meningitis Angels

As stated above the symptoms can closely mimic the flu and therefore, similar symptoms should be monitored closely as well as evaluated by a doctor. Remember in cases of Meningitis rapid treatment is very important!

What are the signs and symptoms, for those of you less familiar with the disease?

In persons 2 and over, common symptoms are high fever, headache, and stiff neck.Other symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, confusion, and sleepiness. In advanced disease, bruises develop under the skin and spread quickly.

In newborns and infants, the typical symptoms of fever, headache, and neck stiffness may be hard to detect. Other signs in babies might be inactivity, irritability, vomiting, and poor feeding.
As the disease progresses, patients of any age can have seizures.

Fortunately, there is vaccine out there that could potentially help protect our children, as far too many precious lives have been lost from this disease. However, the vaccines are not currently universally recommended for infants, only those deemed high risk. The FDC is still reviewing whether they should make it part of current vaccination guidelines.

Meningitis Angels,  is an organization dedicated to raising awareness about meningitis and other vaccine-preventable diseases. They work hard to fight against meningococcal disease. One step in there fight is "Protect Infants Now" (PIN), a campaign aimed at encouraging the government to recommend the current meningococcal meningitis vaccines be given to infants. Through the online PIN petition, Meningitis Angels wants to encourage the CDC to include meningitis vaccines in the recommended vaccination schedule for infants. 

I know not everyone agrees about vaccines. I obviously do. I'm not here to debate the topic though. What I want is to first and foremost help spread the word about Infant Meningitis and raise some awareness to the signs and symptoms for those parents who may not have been aware of the disease or it's seriousness. Second, for parents such as myself who do vaccinate and believe in vaccination I wanted to forward on the Protect Infants Now petition for their consideration. 

I know new vaccines are always the scariest. In fact my Mother believed in vaccinating yet refuse to let me have the Chickenpox vaccine as it was "too new". Instead I suffered with the Chickenpox - and nope I won't let her forget it!  I am of course kidding, I completely understood where she was coming from. We do have to start someplace though, at one time all vaccines were new.  I would love to see this vaccine approved and put on the list of vaccinations for infants. I would be more then happy to one day see it as a apart of my Grandchildren's future vaccination schedule, just like Chickenpox was on my children's.

To learn more about the petition to help get this vaccine approved check out the "PIN" Campaign Petition.

“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central and Meningitis Angels. This campaign was made possible in part through support provided by Novartis Vaccines. A small donation to a charity of my choice was made in my name from Mom Central as a thank-you for participating. All opinions in this posting are 100% my own."