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Meningitis: Kindergarten child suffers from meningococcal meningitis
In Dresden, a small child has contracted meningococcal meningitis (meningitis). The disease can become life-threatening. People who have had contact with the kindergarten child are treated with antibiotics.
Contact persons are treated preventively with antibiotics
A child in a daycare center in Dresden has contracted meningococcal meningitis (meningitis). According to a message, the health department received proof on Friday, whereupon the approximately 110 contact persons in the child's daycare center and the personal contacts were immediately determined. "The children and adults in question have been given preventive antibiotics," explained the medical officer and head of the Dresden Health Department, Jens Heimann. "Because the earlier we intervene in this disease, the more likely it is that the contact person will not break out or be carried on."
Transmission by droplet infection
Meningococci are bacteria that settle in the nasopharynx of humans and, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), can be detected there in about ten percent of the population without any clinical symptoms.
They are transmitted via direct and close contact through droplet infection or saliva contacts. When talking, coughing or sneezing, the bacteria escape into the air in small droplets from the nasopharynx and can be inhaled from a short distance.
In addition, the pathogens can be transmitted as a smear infection, for example by touching the nasal secretions, even in close contact with the sick. Outside the body, the bacteria die quickly.
According to health experts, two forms of meningococcal disease can occur individually or together:
“Meningococcal diseases develop as meningitis in about two thirds of the cases. In about a third of the cases, the course is characterized by sepsis, ”the RKI writes on its website.
The onset of illness is usually very sudden and rapidly progressing.
Fatal outcome possible
With an infection, symptoms such as headache, neck stiffness or nausea can occur two to ten days after the infection.
Other complaints of meningitis include fever, sensitivity to light, chills, and a clouded state of consciousness, such as excessive sleepiness or drowsiness.
Bacterial meningitis can quickly lead to severe disabilities or even death.
Illness is contagious before it breaks out
"With this disease it is unfortunately the case that it is contagious before it breaks out," said the head of the Dresden Health Department, Jens Heimann.
But: "24 hours after the start of an effective antibiotic therapy, the sick are no longer contagious," writes the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) on its portal "infektionsschutz.de".
According to health experts, sufferers must go to the hospital immediately if they suspect meningococcal infection.
Very rare illness
According to the BZgA, meningococcal diseases are rare in Germany: around four cases per million people a year. Most of the time, these are isolated cases, especially in the autumn and winter months.
There are different types of meningococci. Serogroups B and C are the most common in Germany.
Vaccination against the deadly disease has been available for several years. (ad)