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A common question: What causes meningitis?
As one of the world’s most prolific diseases, understanding meningitis is key to staying safe when travelling Meningitis is a serious infection, impacting the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. The condition can be extremely serious or even fatal if left untreated, leading to septicaemia and permanent brain and nerve damage. Although the condition can affect anyone, it is most common in young children and babies, teenagers and young adults. Symptoms usually include a high temperature, sickness, head pain, stiffness, drowsiness, fits and sensory sensitivity. Meningitis can be spread through everyday behaviours like sneezing, coughing, kissing and sharing objects like cutlery and toothbrushes. It is particularly common in parts of Africa and Saudi Arabia. There are at least 50 kinds of bacteria that can cause meningitis, but some are far more common than others. We’ve highlighted details of the main bacteria below, to help you understand more of this serious condition. Meningococcal This bacteria is the most common cause of meningitis and septicaemia in the UK and Ireland. It is most common in babies and children under the age of five, though it can also frequently afflict teenagers. There are several group of meningococcal bacteria which cause the disease, the most common being meningococcal A, B, C, W and Y (known more commonly as MenA, MenB, MenC, MenW and MenY). Vaccines against the meningococcal bacteria are routinely available in the UK and Ireland for high risk groups, and these vaccines protect against all five strains. Pneumococcal Pneumococcal meningitis is the second most common cause of meningitis in the UK and Ireland. In some countries, it is the most common cause. This kind of meningitis can be severe, offering a higher risk of fatality and long-term brain damage than other forms of the disease. It most commonly impacts children under two years old or adults over 65. Haemophilus influenzae type b Haemophilus influenzae type b meningitis, more commonly known as Hib meningitis, most commonly affects babies and children under four. Hib meningitis used to be the most common form of meningitis until the introduction of the Hib vaccine in 1992. Since the arrival of this vaccine, cases of Hib meningitis have dropped by more than 90 per cent. Streptococcal Streptococcal meningitis occurs in two distinct forms, Group B Streptococcal (GBS) and Group A Streptococcal (GAS). GBS is the most prominent form of meningitis in newborn babies, and it can be transmitted from mother to baby before or during birth, as well via adults who handle the baby. Between a fifth and a third of pregnant women carry GBS bacteria, but 99% of babies born to mothers with the bacteria are completely healthy. There is currently no vaccination available for GBS but one is under development. GAS bacteria are most commonly found on the skin’s surface and in the throat. In most cases, it causes mild skin, throat, ear and sinus infections in both adults and children. In rarer instances, invasive infection can occur in the deep tissues and organs, leading to more serious disease. E.coli E.coli is a body which grows even in the bodies of healthy people, but occasionally certain strains can lead to serious disease, such as meningitis. It is most common in newborn babies and people with medical conditions that put them at an increased risk. Although E.coli meningitis is rare in the UK, it is a greater problem in developing countries, meaning travellers must take care. Express Travel Clinic can help you get the vaccinations you need to travel safely, including effective vaccinations against meningitis. Click here to book your appointment at one of our London clinics today. You can also call our team on 0208 993 58 89.
How to protect your family from rabies when travelling
Every traveller and holiday-goer should be aware of the risks rabies presents to you and your family Rabies is a serious viral disease which impacts the nerves and brain. It is most commonly transmitted via the bite of an infected animal. If treatment is sought quickly, rabies can be prevented, but failing to seek treatment can lead to symptoms which can often be fatal. The condition is rare among travellers. It is responsible for around 59,000 deaths a year, but very few of these occur among UK travellers and holiday-goers. However, it is still important to be aware of the risks of the condition, in order to reduce your risk even further. Children are more likely to approach potentially infected animals while abroad, so being aware of the condition can give you the upper hand when it comes to keeping your family safe from rabies this summer. That’s why we’ve answered some of the most common questions surrounding the conditions. “What causes rabies?” The rabies virus is carried by infected animals in their saliva, and enters the body through broken skin or the eyes, nose or mouth. From here, it travels through the nerves to the brain, where it causes inflammation and damage. Raccoons and bats are among the most likely animals to carry the virus, along with foxes, skunks and ferrets. Smaller rodents like hamsters, mice, squirrels and rabbits are rarely infected. Although widespread animal vaccination means that dogs don’t carry the condition in the likes of the UK and USA, elsewhere in the world rabid dogs are the most common carriers of the disease. “Is it contagious?” No, rabies cannot be spread from person to person. It generally only occurs when the saliva of an infected animal enters directly into a person’s mouth, eyes, nose or open wound. This is why animal bites are the most common cause of the condition. “What are the symptoms of rabies?” It can be difficult to know whether or not rabies has been contracted, as symptoms can appear anywhere from a few days to more than a year after being bitten. The early signs include a tingling, itching or stinging feeling around the bite. This can be accompanied by flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle ache, nausea, headache, tiredness and loss of appetite. Following this, neurological symptoms develop. These include: Confusion, hallucinations and bizarre thoughts Excessive movement and agitation Irritability and aggression Muscle spasm and unusual posture Convulsions Weakness Paralysis Extreme sensitivity to light, sound and touch Rabies can also cause sufferers to produce a lot of saliva. When paired with muscle spasms, this can make it difficult to swallow. This leads to the ‘foaming at the mouth’ which is so synonymous with the rabies virus. “How can I prevent rabies?” A few simple precautions can greatly reduce your family’s chance of rabies exposure while abroad. Firstly, avoid any stray animals. Remind your children not to touch, stroke or feed stray cats and dogs. They may look sweet, but the temperaments of stray animals can be unpredictable. If a bite does occur, wash the area thoroughly with soap and water and cover the bite with a clean bandage. You should then contact healthcare professionals immediately and head to the nearest emergency department. The safest way to avoid infection while on holiday is to get vaccinated. The rabies vaccination is designed to eradicate the chance of the disease occurring, so you can travel with peace of mind. Secure your safety this summer by getting vaccinated with Express Travel Clinic. Click here to book an appointment or contact a member of our team.