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Every year on April 24, which is celebrated as World Meningitis Day, health organisations all over the world come together to warn the public about the dangers of meningitis and encourage prevention through vaccination. The idea for the same is to raise public awareness about the life-threatening nature of the disease. Instituted in 2009 by the Confederation of Meningitis Organisations (CoMo), World Meningitis Day aims to bring medical experts, survivors and parents from around the world together.
On the occasion of World Meningitis Day, the Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) conducted awareness programmes to alert parents about the impact of paediatric infectious diseases and highlight the benefits of vaccination in preventing avoidable deaths from such diseases. Meningitis is the inflammation caused by a viral or bacterial infection, of the membranes surrounding the spinal cord and brain. While viral meningitis heals on its own, bacterial meningitis and tuberculosis meningitis have the potential to get acute without timely intervention. Those most at risk are children under the age of five.
Dr Rohit C Agarwal, Central IAP president, says, "Infectious diseases like meningitis and pneumonia attack infants because of their low immunity and can prove fatal if not diagnosed and treated on time." Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine that protects children from 13 disease-causing strains and vaccine for Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) are both available in India. Acute bacterial meningitis strikes with little or no warning and can be fatal, making it a medical emergency that requires aggressive therapy. Initial symptoms of bacterial meningitis include sudden onset of fever, headache, stiff-neck, dislike of bright light, nausea, vomiting and drowsiness. Laboratory tests in addition to the initial clinical signs of meningitis are important for early diagnosis in order to avert the acute stage of meningitis. Those who survive often suffer from irreversible brain damage, mental retardation, epilepsy and deafness.
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