Updated 08/29/2012 11:10 PM
Learning more about meningococcal meningitis
With the sudden and tragic death of a Queensbury high school student, many families are concerned about the risk their children may be facing. How contagious is meningococcal meningitis? Can you protect your child? Innae Park takes a closer look.
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CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. – When it comes to meningococcal meningitis, Dr. George Pascual of CapitalCare Pediatrics Clifton Park doesn't mince words.
“It kills kids,” he said. “Epidemiologically, this is like a nightmare.”
That's because the bacterial infection's symptoms don't always appear right away, so to pinpoint the root cause is nearly impossible.
Dr. Pascual said, “In that incubation period of one to 10 days, (the infected person) could have been just about anywhere and with anybody.”
Those most at risk are ones who are in daily, close quarters with the infected person. Following exposure, antibiotics are recommended, specifically chemoprophylaxis.
However, the best protection, according to Dr. Pascual, is prevention.
“If you immunize, you have a much greater likelihood of not being at risk, even if you are exposed,” he urged.
This vaccination is not mandatory for students entering colleges and universities in New York State. Dr. Pascual is hoping for change at that level, and he says he wants to see it on a wider scale.
“I think New York State should make it mandatory for at least high school-aged students, if not middle school-aged students, to get this immunization. So we don't have to worry about outbreaks like this,” he said.
For more information about Meningococcal Meningitis, visit www.nlm.nih.gov .