In the previous post on our blog, throughout the Immunization Week, we have ascertained the controversial topic of vaccination dividing the society. It has been concluded that the decision not to vaccinate oneself may sometimes lead to severe repercussions. The perturbing article about the death of a 18 months infant in Germany started a series of debates to the point that vaccination should be mandatory by law. As such, victims of vaccine-preventable disease are not few, their stories make us rethink our options.
Those reserved, yet minded to vaccinate themselves, tend to believe that vaccination is necessary for life-threatening diseases, or while traveling to countries where the risk of getting an infection is high. When in fact, “mild” forms of diseases, could affect seriously our health on a long term, or even for life, as in the case of viral meningitis, also referred as aseptic or non-bacterial meningitis.
Meningitis, is a severe form of inflammatory disease that attacks the lining around the brain and spinal cord. It is caused by viruses, bacteria or fungi. While bacterial meningitis is the one raising more concerns and requires urgent action as of its severances and impact, viral meningitis is perceived as “rarely life-threatening”, yet it occurs more frequent. What is important is that both types have similar symptoms what explains the fearfulness one is experiencing when suspected of meningitis.
Viral meningitis has no particular treatment and often patients overcome it as an ordinary flu, while irrespective of its tempered manifestation it may have long-term effects. Nonetheless, there are organizations suggesting an unconcerned attitude manifested by healthcare specialists towards the disease by dismissing patients as having a “mild” form.
Although the viral meningitis is the moderate type from its various forms, the sequels of this disease can leave someone with disabilities. Aseptic meningitis may cause attention deficits, short-term memory loss, or babies, affected until they are 12 months old, may develop feeble neurological problems as adults. Sleep disturbance is common among those who had viral meningitis. A survey on 450 people demonstrated that 97% of those affected by viral meningitis are left with debilitating repercussions. These striking outcome of the study are not only numbers, these are testimonies of people affected by viral meningitis.
Sources indicate the presence of vaccines for bacterial meningitis; though, no particular medicine may be administered for the aseptic one. Nevertheless vaccination against influenza, measles, chickenpox, and mumps can make us less vulnerable. Meningitis Research Foundation recommends routine childhood immunization (measles and mumps) as the only medical prevention for non-bacterial meningitis and specific vaccines for travelers.
Not the disease per se, but the consequences we are left with after viral meningitis, argues the impact this infectious disease may have on our health. It signposts that each abnormal condition of our body requires careful consideration. Since 2013, each year, the Viral Meningitis Week in May has a clear purpose: to make people talk about it and dispel the misconception of being a “mild” disease.