The mortality rate of meningitis was as high as 70 per cent in 1940, the mortality rate continues to be as high as 25 per cent even now due to poor awareness, the Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) Krishna district branch secretary Majeti Madhavi said.

Dr. Madhavi said health organisations all over the world came together on April 24, the World Meningitis Day to warn the public about the danger of the disease and encourage prevention through vaccination.

“Infectious diseased like meningitis and pneumonia attack infants because of their low immunity and can prove fatal if not diagnosed and treated on time,” she said.

Two vaccines – the Pneumococcal Conjugate vaccine and the Haemophilus Influenza (type B) vaccine -- where now available in India, she said.

Symptoms

Dr. Madhavi said acute bacterial meningitis strikes with little or no warning and can be fatal making it is a medical emergency requiring aggressive therapy. Initial symptoms of bacterial meningitis included sudden onset of fever, headache, stiff-neck, dislike of bright light, nausea, vomiting and drowsiness. Laboratory tests in addition to the initial clinical signs were important for early diagnosis in order to avert the acute stage of meningitis, she said.

“In spite of the appropriate use of antibiotics, the mortality rate due to acute bacterial meningitis has been noticeably high in India (16-32 per cent). Increasing incidence of antibiotic resistance also underscored the importance of prevention through vaccination,” said IAP Krishna branch president Chalasani Mallikarjuna Rao.

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