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  • This is the Best Way to Protect Yourself from Meningococcemia, According to the DOH

    Meningococcemia is a deadly but highly preventable disease.
    by Kitty Elicay .
This is the Best Way to Protect Yourself from Meningococcemia, According to the DOH
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  • Practicing and maintaining good hygiene is the best way to prevent the spread of meningococcemia, according to an official statement by the Department of Health (DOH), after two suspected meningococcemia cases from Laguna and Batangas were confirmed positive for Neisseria meningitidis bacteria in September 2019, based on the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine laboratory results. DOH is still awaiting laboratory confirmation for five more suspected meningococcemia cases.

    Despite recording 169 cases with 88 deaths of the highly contagious disease this year, the DOH says there is no reason to declare an outbreak. “As of the moment, there is no meningococcemia outbreak in the country,” DOH Assistant Secretary of the Public Health Services Team Maria Rosario Vergeire declared, “as cases are sporadic in nature and are not clustering.”

    She adds, “We are closely coordinating with our regional office for contact tracing. We are providing post-exposure prophylaxis to close contacts of the patients, and are monitoring them for any signs and symptoms of meningococcemia.

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    Meningococcemia is a rare but very serious illness caused by the Neisseria meningitidis bacteria. It spreads person-to-person through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions from coughing, kissing, or sharing utensils. But the DOH emphasizes that it does not spread as easily as common colds or influenza as the “bacteria causing the disease cannot survive outside of the human host.”

    For protection, antibiotics and vaccination can be given to exposed individuals. However, while the meningococcal vaccine is available in the country, it is not included in the government’s childhood immunization schedule.

    Assistant Secretary Vergeire reiterates that the best way to prevent the spread of the disease is through the practice of good hygiene. Wash your hands regularly and cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

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    Meningococcemia is a highly preventable disease. But if left untreated, the bacteria can kill in a matter of hours. (The DOH says that in 15% of the cases, death can occur within a few hours.) Early diagnosis and immediate treatment with antibiotics are crucial because the disease can progress rapidly.

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    The disease presents itself with nonspecific symptoms such as cough, headache, and sore throat, followed by fever, chills, malaise, nausea, vomiting and skin rashes. (Click here for the complete list of symptoms). It can quickly progress and infected individuals can experience lethargy, difficulty breathing, neck stiffness, sensitivity to light, seizures, hemorrhagic eruptions, skin lesions, and hypotension.

    Should you feel any of the above symptoms, seek medical help as soon as you can. “I advise individuals experiencing symptoms of meningococcemia to go to the nearest hospital immediately,” advised Assistant Secretary Vergeire.

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