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Your complete guide to meningitis
Meningitis affects more than 2.8 million people globally every year. Understanding the condition is a key step to avoiding it, so here is everything you need to know There’s no denying the severity of meningitis. Across all age groups, the disease is still the world’s 6th largest infectious killer, resulting in nearly 320,000 deaths in 2016 alone. In fact, collectively and meningitis and neonatal sepsis are the second biggest infectious killers of children under 5 globally, and the condition leaves 1 in 5 sufferers with a permanent impairment such as brain injury. No one wants to fall victim to meningitis, but in order to successfully avoid the condition, it’s important to first understand it. If you’re planning on travelling further afield in the coming months, particularly with young children, here’s everything you need to know about the condition. What is meningitis? Meningitis is a very serious infection, damaging the protective membranes that surround the spinal cord and brain – known as the meninges. The infection can affect anyone, but is most common in babies and young children, as well as teenagers and young adults. Without treatment, meningitis can lead to life-threatening blood poisoning known as septicaemia. It can also result in permanent damage to the nerves and brain. What are the symptoms of meningitis? Like many serious infections, symptoms of meningitis can appear suddenly and develop rapidly. They often include: Sickness Headaches A fever and high temperature of 38 degrees centigrade or above Stiffness, particularly in the neck Increased sensitivity to bright lights Seizures and fits Drowsiness Unresponsiveness A blotchy rash may also occur These signs can appear in any order, and it may be that not all of them occur. You should seek medical advice as soon as you feel concerned that you or your child may have meningitis. How does meningitis spread? Meningitis can be contracted in either viral or bacterial form. Often it is spread through sneezing, coughing, kissing and sharing utensils, cutlery and toothbrushes. Often, the disease is caught from people who carry the bacteria in their nose or throat but do not show signs of illness themselves. It can also be caught from someone with meningitis. Certain areas have a higher risk factor when it comes to meningitis, so it’s important to pay attention if you are planning on travelling further afield. These parts of the world include Africa and Saudi Arabia. Outlook and treatment Viral meningitis can often get better on its own, without leaving long term damage. The same is often true of those suffering with bacterial meningitis who are treated quickly. However, if treatment is not administered then long term issues can occur, including hearing or vision loss, memory loss, recurrent seizures, mobility problems and even loss of limbs. Around one in ten cases of bacterial meningitis are fatal. This shows just how necessary effective treatment is, as bacterial meningitis usually needs to be treated in hospital for at least a week. Common treatments include antibiotics administered into a vein, fluids given into a vein and oxygen through a face mask. While viral medication often gets better on its own within 7-10 days, it’s important to get plenty of rest and stay hydrated. Many people find that painkillers and anti-sickness medication can also help. Avoid the risk of meningitis with a vaccination from Express Travel Clinic Vaccinations offer significant protection against many of the most common causes of meningitis, making them a vital precaution for anyone travelling to higher risk areas. Meningitis vaccinations are available from Express Travel Clinic, and should be given two to three weeks before travel. For adults and children over five, this vaccination provides protection for around 5 years, and provides 2-3 years protection for children under five. For more information on the meningitis vaccination from Express Travel Clinic, click here. Alternatively, call our team today on 0208 993 58 89.
Everything you need to know about cholera
With more than 150,000 cases reported each year, understanding cholera is vital for travel safety Cholera may not be found in the UK, but for travellers it is still a concern. This infectious disease can cause severe watery diarrhoea and dehydration, which can be fatal if left untreated. Cholera is most commonly found in parts of the world where poor sanitation, crowding and famine are more common. Higher risk areas include parts of Africa, south Asia and Latin America. If you are planning a trip to any area where cholera is still prevalent, it is important to understand as much as possible about the condition. By getting the facts, you can take the necessary precautions to stay safe and healthy when abroad. What causes cholera? Cholera is caused by Vibrio cholerae bacteria, normally found in food and water that has been contaminated with faeces from an infected person. Common sources of the bacteria include municipal water supplies and ice made from municipal water. It may also be found in vegetables grown with contaminated water, raw fish, seafood caught in contaminated waters or foods and drinks sold by street vendors. When contaminated food or water is consumed, the bacteria releases a toxin in the intestines which results in severe diarrhoea. You are unlikely to catch cholera from casual contact with an infected person. What are the symptoms of cholera? Cholera symptoms can appear as soon as a few hours after infection. However, in other instances they may take as long as five days to appear. Sometimes symptoms are mild, while in other cases they can be extremely serious. Around 1 in 20 infected people will experience severe watery diarrhoea accompanied by vomiting, and this can rapidly lead to dehydration. It’s important to bear in mind that even those with minimal or no symptoms can contribute to the spread of infection. If left untreated, dehydration can lead to shock and even death within a matter of hours. Symptoms of the dehydration associated with cholera include: Low blood pressure Muscle cramps Rapid heart rate Loss of skin elasticity Thirst Dry mucous membranes, including the inside of the mouth, nose, throat and eyelids How do you prevent and treat cholera? If you plan to travel to an area where you are at risk of the cholera infection, it’s important to take certain precautions in order to stay safe. The first precaution you should take is to only use water which has been boiled, chemically disinfected, or which comes in a sealed bottle. Be sure to use disinfected water not just for drinking, but also for preparing food and drinks, making ice, washing your face and hands, and washing fruits and vegetables. The most effective way to disinfect water is to boil it for at least one minute, or filter it and use a commercial chemical disinfectant. You can also lower your risk of cholera by avoiding raw foods, including unpeeled fruits and vegetables, raw or undercooked meat and fish, and unpasteurized milk and milk products. If you suspect that you may have become infected, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible. Rehydration is key, and treatment will often consist of oral or intravenous solutions to replace lost fluids. Before you travel, make sure you improve your chances of preventing cholera by getting fully vaccinated. Cholera vaccinations are available from Express Travel Clinic. If you are planning to travel further afield, make sure you stay safe and healthy by getting fully vaccinated. Book with Express Travel Clinic or simply pay us a visit for a walk-in appointment.