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The meningitis menace

The meningitis menace

Though India has its deluge of dreaded diseases against which children are routinely vaccinated every year, there are some which are grossly ignored. Bacterial meningitis is one of these. Medically known as Haemophilus influenzae type B (HIB) meningitis, this form of the disease is very common in India, but not much attention is paid to it, either in policy or in practice. Reports from across the country say that about 25.5% children suffer from the condition, which is a type of brain fever. This bacterium is the major cause of bacterial meningitis in babies and children. It can be incurable if brought to the notice of the doctor in its later stages. Even if the disease is not fatal, it leaves some form of disability in the child. In other countries, vaccination against HIB is commonly given with the other routine vaccinations. This is yet to be introduced in our country. Researchers recommend that it be given as part of the DPT vaccine given to children. Though the reported cases are not more than 100 very year, researchers opine that it may be due to lack of detection facilities than the actual incidence. The disease mostly affects babies between 6-18 months. It is an infection of the covering of the brain associated with fever and other conditions like pneumonia, inflammation of the throat and pain in the bones and joints. The disease is contagious and may be transmitted from one individual to another by way of coughing or sneezing.
November 21, 2000 (PTI)
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