How To Keep Your Child Safe From Meningococcal Meningitis Infection?

Nimisha Gupta

Nimisha Gupta
Aug 2023

2 min read
Meningococcal Meningitis

Table of content

The health and well-being of a child is the top priority of every parent. Is it not? But do you realize that a dangerous infection could seriously threaten your children or newborns? If not, you need to be informed of the risks that meningococcal meningitis infection poses to your children. Therefore, this blog will discuss everything about meningococcal meningitis infection to help you better understand this illness and protect your children.

We all know that prevention is better than cure. So, why not equip ourselves with the knowledge of Meningococcal Meningitis in kids, how it spreads, its symptoms, and how to prevent your kids from this infection? So, let’s start discovering!

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What Is Meningococcal Meningitis Infection?

Meningococcal Meningitis is a rare but serious infection that affects the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It is caused by a bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus), which can be found in the nose and throat of healthy individuals. While most people who carry these bacteria do not develop an infection, it can spread easily through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, or close contact. However, to deal with any infections make sure your child is getting all the essential nutrients for kids to build their immunity.

Although this infection can affect people of all ages but young children and infants are particularly at risk of Meningococcal Meningitis due to their developing immune systems and increased exposure to crowded environments such as schools and daycare centers. The infection can progress rapidly, leading to severe complications such as brain damage, hearing loss, or even death if left untreated.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of Meningococcal Meningitis is crucial for early intervention. Common symptoms include high fever, headache, stiff neck or back pain, vomiting or nausea, sensitivity to light (photophobia), confusion or irritability, and a rash that may appear as purple spots on the body. If your child exhibits any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

While this infection can be devastating for families affected by it, there are ways we can take proactive measures to prevent its occurrence. By implementing preventive strategies such as vaccination and practicing good hygiene habits like regular handwashing, we can significantly reduce the risk of our children contracting this potentially life-threatening disease.

In our next section, we will discuss in more detail what is the cause of Meningococcal Meningitis, or how it spreads among children, and what steps we should take to protect them from this harmful bacterium.

How Does Meningococcal Meningitis Spread Among Children?

Our children are exposed to the dangerous and sometimes fatal virus known as meningococcal meningitis. We know it sounds worrisome and scary for anyone to hear about this. But, to keep our little ones safe and sound, it is always better to take precautions to beat this infection. Therefore, it becomes imperative for us first to understand how this dangerous infection spreads among kids. The following are the causes behind its spread:

1. Close Contact Transmission

The primary cause of spread would be close contact with an infected person. This person can be present nearby a child, like being in the same household or classroom, allowing the bacteria to transfer. The bacteria can spread when children interact closely, enabling the transfer of germs through respiratory droplets or touching contaminated surfaces. If it comes to one kid, then it transfers to another.

2. Asymptomatic Carriers

Even if they feel well, some people can carry the bacteria in their nose and throat, making them unknowing carriers. Now, these carriers can unwittingly spread the bacteria to other kids whenever they come in contact with others. A child with low immunity will quickly get infected. So, it is important to be cautious and aware of anyone around your child who might carry the germs. Also, please check out this kids diet plan to promote their growth and prevent health issues.

3. Sharing Toys And Other Items

We often teach our kids that sharing is caring! But sometimes, this habit of sharing might land them in deep trouble. Do you know sharing items like toys, cups, and utensils provides a direct route for the bacteria to move from one child to another? But now you know, right? So, try to teach children not to share personal belongings like cups, spoons, toys, etc., with other kids for their own and everyone’s safety by reducing the chance of bacteria spreading.

4. Respiratory Droplets

Well, this is the most common cause of spreading Meningococcal Meningitis among kids. Here’s what happens when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, then tiny droplets containing the bacteria can land on surfaces or be breathed in by others. Children nearby might inhale these droplets, potentially leading to this bacterial infection.

5. Crowded Or Closed Environments

Generally, infections or bacteria spread faster in closed places. Crowded surroundings where kids are staying close together, such as schools, daycare centers, school buses, canteens, etc., create possibilities for the bacteria to spread more easily from one to another, especially when kids have low immunity levels. Hence, encouraging personal space and good respiratory etiquette, like covering the mouth with a handkerchief while coughing or sneezing, can minimize the risk of infection in such settings.

6. Poor Hygiene

Kids are always in a hurry and tend to ignore hygienic practices. Not washing hands after using the bathroom or covering coughs and sneezes can leave bacteria on hands and surfaces, increasing the chance of spreading. Teaching children proper hygiene practices can contribute to reducing the spread of bacteria. Additionally, to meet the nutritional needs of young children aged one to three years, you can check our toddler diet plan to build their immunity to fight infections.

It’s important to bear in mind that not every person or child exposed to this bacteria will get meningitis. Even if they don’t exhibit any symptoms, some people who carry the bacteria can still spread it to others. You can prevent your child from contracting the dangerous meningococcal meningitis infection by knowing how it spreads and adopting the right precautions.

Symptoms of Meningococcal Meningitis In Children

Meningococcal meningitis is a serious infection that can affect children, causing inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Parents need to be aware of the symptoms associated with this condition, as early detection can significantly improve outcomes. So, let’s find out what are the symptoms of meningococcal meningitis in children:

1. High Fever

When the body temperature rises above the normal range, usually around 98.6°F (37°C), this is a sign that the body is fighting an infection.  Kids with meningococcal meningitis might have a very high body temperature. It can make them feel hot, sweaty, shivery, or tired, and they might have chills. Always keep track by measuring their temperature regularly with a thermometer and try to give the kids plenty of fluids and rest. There are certain medications to reduce the fever, but you must consult the doctor before giving them to children. Also, if someone is going through dengue fever, then please check out this dengue diet plan by Fitelo to help you recover fast.

2. Severe Headaches

Children can get a really intense headache that makes their head hurt a lot, where they feel intense pain or pressure. That is why they might hold their head or rub their temples because it hurts so much. The headache might be mild or severe, but it can impact different parts of the head, making them feel dizzy, nauseous, and sensitive to bear light and sound. In this situation, try to make them rest in a dark and quiet room and apply a cold compress on their forehead to relieve pain. Also, make them drink water and consult the doctor for the correct medications.

3. Stiff Neck

Another hallmark symptom of meningococcal meningitis is neck stiffness means the neck that connects the head to the body can feel stiff and rigid. Children may have difficulty and pain moving their necks or tilting their heads forward due to the inflammation in the protective membranes around the brain and spinal cord. You can try to ease the stiffness by putting heat or ice packs on the area and gently massaging the muscles.

4. Nausea Or Vomiting

When kids get sick, they throw up as their stomach gets upset, and they might spit out the food they ate. It makes them feel even more weak, dehydrated, and sick.  You can prevent nausea or vomiting in children by giving them small and bland meals, avoiding spicy or greasy foods, drinking clear liquids such as water or ginger ale, and taking medicines in a doctor’s consultation.

5. Fatigue (Feeling Tired)

One of the effects of meningococcal meningitis is a profound sense of tiredness and weakness in children. This fatigue goes beyond the usual exhaustion and can make them feel lethargic, lacking the energy to do even simple activities. They might seem drowsy, have difficulty staying awake, and might not show interest in things they normally enjoy. For this, let the child rest properly and follow a healthy meal plan for kids.

6. Cold Hands and Feet

The infection caused by meningococcal bacteria can affect blood circulation. Consequently, kids might complain that their hands and feet feel unusually cold, even when they’re indoors and dressed warmly. This happens because the bacteria can affect the blood vessels reducing warm blood flow to these extremities and making kids feel numb.

7. Rapid Breathing

When the body fights an infection like meningococcal meningitis, it may respond by increasing the breathing rate. Kids might breathe faster than normal rate, even when they’re not physically active. This rapid breathing is a sign that the body is trying to bring in more oxygen to support the immune response against the infection.

8. Diarrhea

Children with meningococcal meningitis might develop diarrhea, which means they have loose or watery stools more frequently than usual. Diarrhea can lead to dehydration, a condition where the body loses too much water. Dehydration can worsen their overall condition and make them feel sicker. You can check our diarrhea diet plan but consult with a registered dietician and doctor for necessary changes for your child.

9. Dark Purple Rash (Later Stages)

In more advanced stages of meningococcal meningitis, a distinctive rash can appear. This rash often looks like dark purple or red spots on the skin. Unlike other rashes that fade when you press on them, this one doesn’t. It’s a serious sign that suggests bleeding under the skin due to the infection affecting the blood vessels. If you notice this type of rash, seek medical attention immediately as it can indicate a serious and rapidly worsening condition.

If any of these symptoms are observed in a child, prompt medical attention is crucial. Meningococcal meningitis can progress quickly and become life-threatening, so seeking early help can make a significant difference in their recovery.

How To Prevent Meningococcal Meningitis In Children

Preventing Meningococcal Meningitis in children is crucial for their health and well-being. Here are some steps you can take to keep your child safe from this infection.

1. Vaccination

The most effective way to prevent children from Meningococcal Meningitis is through vaccination. Make sure your child receives the recommended vaccines, which protect against multiple strains of the bacteria that cause the infection. Vaccines are usually recommended during childhood and adolescence. They help the body develop immunity to fight off harmful bacteria, reducing the risk of infection. The vaccines are given as shots in the arm or leg. There are two types of vaccines in India for kids:

  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4) – This vaccine protects against four types of meningococcus bacteria (A, C, W, and Y). It is recommended for all kids.
  • Meningococcal B vaccine (MenB): This vaccine protects against one type of meningococcus bacteria (B). 

2. Avoid Close Contact With Infected Individuals

Meningococcal meningitis spreads through respiratory droplets or direct contact with an infected person’s saliva or mucus. Teach your children to maintain a safe distance from anyone showing symptoms of illness.

3. Good Hygiene Practices

Encourage your child to follow healthy hygiene practices like washing hands regularly with soap and water, especially after using a bathroom. Hands should be properly washed before eating or touching their face and after being in crowded places. This will help them eliminate bacterial infections and are good for overall health.

4. Avoid Sharing Personal Items

Kids should be taught not to share items like drinks, eating utensils, or personal belongings with others. This reduces the chances of coming into contact with the bacteria.

5. Covering Coughs and Sneezes

As this bacteria spreads from respiratory droplets, it is essential to educate our children to cover their mouths and noses immediately with a hanky, tissue, or their elbow when coughing or sneezing to prevent the spread of germs. This practice helps protect others from getting sick.

6. Avoiding Crowded Places When Sick

If a child is feeling unwell or showing signs of sickness, avoiding crowded places like school or daycare is a good idea. This helps prevent the spread of illnesses, including meningococcal meningitis.

7. Boost The Immune System

A strong immune system can help fight off infections more effectively. So, make sure that your child eats a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, gets enough sleep, exercises regularly, and avoids stress as much as possible. Check out our 10-year-old diet plan to give the right food for the optimal growth of kids and boost immunity.

8. Educate Yourself and Others

As parents, you must learn about the signs and symptoms of meningococcal meningitis so that you can recognize them early if they persist in your children. Also, try to share this knowledge with other parents, caregivers, and teachers to raise awareness and promote quick action if a child shows symptoms.

If you suspect your child might have meningococcal meningitis based on the symptoms, seek medical attention as early as possible. Knowing the symptoms and following these preventive tips can significantly reduce the risk of meningococcal meningitis in children and help ensure their overall health and well-being.

Foods For Children Dealing With Meningococcal Meningitis

While no specific diet can directly treat meningococcal meningitis, providing proper nutrition can support a child’s recovery and overall health during illness. Here are some general tips on what to feed your child if they are suffering from meningitis:

  • Hydrating Foods and Drinks: Encourage fluids like water, clear broths, herbal teas, and diluted fruit juices to prevent dehydration caused by fever, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • Nutrient-Rich Foods: Include a variety of nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins (chicken, fish, lean meats, eggs, legumes), and dairy or dairy alternatives (for calcium).
  • Soft and Easily Digestible Foods: Choose foods that are easy on the stomach and easy to chew or swallow. Examples include oatmeal, yogurt, applesauce, mashed potatoes, khichdi, and soups.
  • Vitamin C-Rich Foods: Foods rich in vitamin C, like oranges, strawberries, bell peppers, and citrus fruits, should be there in the daily nutrition for kids to support their immune systems.
  • Foods Rich in Iron: Include iron-rich foods like lean meats, poultry, beans, lentils, fortified cereals, and leafy greens to support the body’s recovery and energy levels.
  • Healthy Fats: Nourish your children with healthy fats, such as dry fruits, nuts, seeds, avocado, and olive oil, to provide energy and support overall health.

Foods To Avoid For Meningococcal Meningitis In Children

While battling with this serious bacterial infection, you must take care of certain foods that your child should not consume in order to recover fast. Keep your children away from:

  • Processed and Sugary Foods: Limit foods high in added sugars, as they can potentially weaken the immune system and contribute to inflammation.
  • Fatty, Fried, and Heavy Foods: Avoid greasy or fried foods and foods high in saturated fats, as they might be harder to digest and can worsen stomach discomfort. Instead, you can also check healthy snacks for kids to nourish their bodies.
  • Spicy and Acidic Foods: Spicy and acidic foods can irritate the stomach lining and worsen any digestive issues.
  • Caffeine and Sugary Drinks: Limit caffeinated beverages and sugary drinks, as they can interfere with hydration and contribute to energy crashes.
  • Junk Foods: Stay away from highly processed and nutrient-poor foods like sugary snacks, chips, and fast food.
  • Allergenic Foods: If your child has food allergies, avoid any foods that trigger allergic reactions.

You must remember that Meningococcal Meningitis is a severe disease requiring doctors’ immediate attention. The above dietary recommendation is general, and in extreme cases, a personalized diet should be followed based on the child’s health status, medical needs, and dietary preferences.

Treatment Of Meningococcal Meningitis In Children

Meningococcal Meningitis in children needs medical emergency.

Within 24 hours, this disease has the potential to be fatal necessitating immediate medical intervention. Usually, it can’t be safely taken care of at home. So, how do you treat meningococcal disease? Time is of the essence when dealing with this potentially life-threatening infection especially in kids or infants. The main course of treatment for meningococcal meningitis involves the administration of antibiotics, usually through intravenous (IV) injections.

Additionally, antibiotics effectively kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria responsible for causing meningitis. In most cases, broad-spectrum antibiotics such as ceftriaxone or cefotaxime are given until a specific type of bacteria is identified through laboratory tests and a more targeted antibiotic can be prescribed.

It’s important for patients with suspected or confirmed cases of meningococcal meningitis to receive specialized care in a hospital setting where healthcare professionals can closely monitor them. Early recognition and initiation of appropriate treatment greatly increase the chances of a positive outcome.

Conclusion: Meningococcal Meningitis In Children

We hope that by now, you understand how crucial it is to protect your kids from the risk of meningococcal meningitis illness brought on by the Neisseria meningitides bacteria. If it is not identified and treated immediately, this bacterial infection can result in serious sickness and even death.

Meningococcal meningitis is contagious and spreads by respiratory droplets, crowded settings like schools, dorms, or childcare facilities are high-risk areas for transmission. Recognizing the symptoms early is key to preventing this devastating illness in youngsters. High temperature, excruciating headache, stiff neck, sensitivity to light, nausea, vomiting, confusion, or changed mental status are just a few of the symptoms that may appear. In certain circumstances, there may also be a rash with tiny purple dots on the skin.

Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to protect your child from certain meningococcal infections. Additionally, telling our kids to maintain proper hygiene by regularly washing their hands and a safe distance from infected people can help minimize the chance of catching infections. For any dietary recommendations related to children, you can connect with our Fitelo experts anytime for a personalized diet chart for kids.

If your child shows the symptoms of meningitis at any time, take them immediately to the healthcare team. Our duty as parents is to be mindful of illnesses like meningococcal meningitis and take the required actions to protect our kids. We may lower their risk by being watchful and proactive in protecting their health through immunization and preventive measures.

Remember: prevention is key when it comes to protecting our loved ones from harmful diseases like meningitis! So let’s prioritize their safety by taking appropriate actions today!

Stay informed! Stay safe!

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Meningococcal Meningitis Infection In Kids?

Meningococcal meningitis in kids is a bacterial infection that affects the protective membranes around the brain and spinal cord. It can cause high fever, severe headaches, neck stiffness, and a distinctive rash. Rapid medical attention is crucial as it can become serious quickly. Vaccination helps prevent it.

What Is The Cause Of Meningococcal Meningitis In Children?

Meningococcal meningitis in children is caused by a bacterium called Neisseria meningitis. This bacterium can spread through close contact with an infected person through respiratory droplets, especially in crowded environments. It can lead to inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, resulting in the characteristic symptoms of the disease.

What Are The Symptoms Of Meningococcal Meningitis In Kids?

Symptoms of meningococcal meningitis in kids include high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, vomiting, sensitivity to light, irritability, rapid breathing, and a distinctive purple or red rash that doesn’t fade when pressed. Immediate medical attention is essential if these signs appear.

How Is Meningococcal Diagnosed In Children?

Doctors assess the child’s symptoms for this disease, particularly those related to fever, headache, neck stiffness, and rash. A physical examination can reveal signs of infection. Laboratory tests, such as analyzing a sample of cerebrospinal fluid taken from a spinal tap, can confirm the presence of the bacteria responsible for meningococcal meningitis. These tests aid in accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment.

What Antibiotics Treat Meningitis In Kids?

Antibiotics like ceftriaxone and cefotaxime are commonly used to treat bacterial meningitis in children, including meningococcal meningitis. These antibiotics target the bacteria causing the infection and help control its spread. It’s important to follow the doctor’s recommendations regarding antibiotic treatment type and duration for meningitis in children.

Where Is Meningococcal Meningitis Found?

Meningococcal meningitis can be found anywhere in the world, affecting children in various regions. It is more common in areas with crowded living conditions, such as schools, college dormitories, and military barracks. Outbreaks can occur in places where people are in close contact, making it easier for the bacteria to spread.

Is Meningococcal Meningitis Curable In Kids?

Meningococcal meningitis can be treatable and curable in kids with prompt medical intervention. Early diagnosis, usually through clinical evaluation, physical examination, and laboratory tests, followed by administering appropriate antibiotics, is essential to successfully treat the infection. Timely vaccination and awareness of symptoms are also important for preventing the disease and its potential complications in children.

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This blog post was written to help you make healthy and better food choices. So, be aware and take care. The vital thing to consider is your health before starting a restrictive diet. Therefore, always seek advice from a doctor/dietitian before starting if you have any concerns.
Eat Healthy, Live Healthy. Enjoy a long, happy life.

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