Severe Bacterial Disease That Can Kill In just 24 Hours Found In Travelers Returning To The UK

Health officials in the UK are warning travelers returning to the country to get checked for Meningococcal bacteria - a rare, serious, and sometimes fatal disease that can cause meningitis and blood infections. It invades the nervous system and can turn fatal within hours. According to statistics, three people have tested positive for meningococcal disease after coming back from Saudi Arabia. Read on to know more.
Meningococcal bacteria

Meningococcal bacteria causes meningitis and blood infections

UK health officials have warned travelers returning to the country to get checked for a rare bacterium that invades the nervous system and can turn fatal within hours. According to statistics, three people have tested positive for meningococcal disease after coming back from Saudi Arabia.
Meningococcal bacteria, also known as Neisseria meningitidis, is a rare, serious, and sometimes fatal disease that can cause meningitis and blood infections. Doctors say meningococcal disease can be deadly in hours, but early diagnosis and antibiotic treatment can reduce the mortality rate to about 10–14 per cent.
According to the Meningitis Research Foundation, nine out of ten children and teenagers who die of this condition lose their lives within 24 hours, Since April, there have been 12 cases of meningococcal disease associated with travel for Umrah, an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia. The Sun reported statistics from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control that two of the pilgrims who got sick lived in the UK, four lived in France, and five were from the US.
Ten people who got sick had been to Mecca, and two had close contact with someone who did.

Doctors advise spreading awareness

Authorities have now urged the doctors to spread awareness regarding the disease, asking people to watch out for the symptoms, which can progress "rapidly" and require urgent medical support and emergency antibiotics. Doctors are also being notified to look for signs of meningitis in returning travelers and to flag if the person has been to Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage.
People who come into close contact with someone with meningococcal disease should get an antibiotic as soon as possible, regardless of their vaccination status, the NHS says on its website.

Who does the meningococcal disease affect?

According to experts, certain people are more likely than others to get meningococcal disease, including:
  • Those who fit into certain age ranges, like babies younger than one year, teenagers, and early adults
  • Have no spleen or an injured spleen
  • Have sickle cell disease
  • Are exposed during an outbreak or work with bacteria in a laboratory

Signs and symptoms

A few signs and symptoms of the disease include:
There are many signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease, a few of which include:
  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Stiffness in the neck
  • Botheration by bright light
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • A rash made up of pinpoints that look dark, in shades of red and purple, or a bigger area that looks like a bruise
  • Loss of appetite
  • Always feeling sleepy
  • Muscle pain and joint aches
  • Grunting and moaning
  • Having trouble walking or staying upright
In small children, symptoms may include refusing to eat, being twitchy or floppy, or being extremely tired.

Is it contagious?

According to doctors, meningococcal disease is highly contagious among people and is transmitted through mucous. You can catch meningococcal disease if you spend time in close contact with someone who has it. You can give it to someone else if you have it, as well.
The germ that causes meningococcal disease doesn’t live long outside the body, so it can’t survive on surfaces.
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