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Student contracts meningococcal

Ivana Pelisek | Interrobang | News | April 6th, 2009

A case of meningococcal disease is a probability concerning a Fanshawe student.

The Middlesex-London Health Unit reported last week the Fanshawe student has a probable case of meningococcal disease. Friends and family of the patient have been identified by the hospital and Middlesex London Health Unit and have been placed on necessary antibiotics, the report stated.

Meningococcal disease, according to Cathie Walker a Manager of Infectious Diseases Control Team at the Middlesex-London Health Unit, said the disease can sometimes lead to more severe cases, which may lead to meningitis.

Meningococcal disease can sometimes cause meningitis, which is a swelling of the lining of the brain and spinal cord, according to Walker.

Bacteria which causes meningococcal disease is carried in the nose and throat, and according to Walker, approximately 10 per cent of persons can carry the virus at any given time.

The disease can spread when the nose and throat secretions of an infected person come in contact with the nose or mouth of another person.

“Young adults may engage in high-risk behavior do not share anything that goes in your moth,” Walker advised That applies to sharing cigarettes, pencils, lipsticks etc. and anything that can go in your mouth, she added.

The Middlesex London Health Unit also advised that the sharing of objects that have been in another person's mouth or kissing babies on the mouth should be avoided at all times to avoid a probable meningococcal case.

The immune system of babies is not yet well developed and therefore puts babies in a higher risk bracket, Walker said in a phone interview.

People with meningococcal disease may have symptoms that include a high fever, severe headache, a stiff neck, nausea, vomiting and sometimes a red pinpoint rash with bruising, said Walker.

Babies' symptoms may also include some of the above but also be difficult to wake, have a loss in their appetite, be very irritable and cry more than usual.

There are approximately 200 cases in Canada each year of which 10 per cent can be fatal, said Walker.

An additional 10-15 per cent of cases can leave long-term impairments.

Walker strongly urges people of the London community to stay protected and not share personal things that have been in other people's mouths.

“Take care of yourself and get the flu shot,” she added.

The Conjugate C Meningococcal Vaccine will help protect against a common form of meningococcal disease called serogroup C. This particular vaccine will provide great protection, which lasts for a number of years, according to the Middlesex London Health Unit. Children who are less than one year of age need more than one dose of the vaccine to be fully protected.

Fanshawe College had no comment regarding the infected student currently under observation.
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