Summer vacation is drawing to a close, and kids will soon return to school. Most colleges, including all universities in Texas, require meningitis vaccination. From the Greek for “inflammation of membranes”, this infection attacks the membranous covering of the nervous system. There are only about five hundred cases each year, nationally. But one out of five is fatal, and survivors are often left with devastating disabilities. It is highly contagious, and spread by coughing, sneezing, or other relatively close contact. Outbreaks occur where people live in tight quarters, making the college campus a ripe target.
Signs and symptoms: Muscles aches, fever, and severe headache with neck stiffness are hallmark symptoms. Serious cases can lead to loss of limbs, coma, and death.
What to do: Prompt attention and antibiotics usually save the day. But the key here is prevention. College students – don’t wait until the last minute to check on vaccination requirements. Get it done now, and avoid delays in attending class.
Thought for the day: If you’re heading to a place of higher education, get your meningitis vaccination.
What’s Going Around is contributed by family practice doctor Kyle Scarborough, M.D. You can reach him at email@example.com.