VELLORE: Summer months could also be a source for rare diseases but timely treatment of these diseases could also save lives. Two boys, (aged 13 and 6) from Vellore, who were diagnosed to be suffering from meningococcal infection, considered to be rare among children, were saved, thanks to the timely treatment from the Christian Medical College Hospital here. Hailing from Mullipalayam in the Fort City, they were identified by the low cost-efficient care unit attached to the Christian Medical College Hospital and after treatment, both the boys are doing well now.
Dr George Vergheese of department of adult infection diseases at CMC said, the disease is not uncommon among those living in crowded areas but was rare among children. In India, most of the cases were sporadic while some incidences of outbreaks were being reported mostly from North Eastern States. In 2005, there was an outbreak reported in Meghalaya in which 500 cases (both adult and children) were diagnosed to be suffering from this disease and of them 50 had died. Last year in Princeton University 10 cases were reported but with no causality. Contrary to the belief that summer could be considered as a breeding season for many infectious diseases, he noted that incidences of typical outbreaks were beyond any seasonal parameters.
Dr Winsley Rose, department of pediatric infectious diseases recalled that both boys from Mullipalayam lived close by and the infection (caused by a serogroup C of meningococcus bacteria) was confirmed through culture, PCR and microscopic tests. While both of them were brought in the initial stages, they responded well to treatment and were cured. Vaccines and medications were also distributed to around 35 persons in the locality, mostly close relatives and friends, who moved with the patients, to prevent further spreading of the disease. The hospital staff were also covered, he added.
Winsley said, humans are reservoirs of these bacteria and they spread through air when the infected persons coughed or sneezed. About 10 per cent of people have this type of bacteria in the back of their nose and throat with no signs or symptoms of the disease, and are called ‘a carrier’. Infected persons suffered from unusual fever, head ache, vomiting and altered behaviour. While it is difficult to identify the source of infection, a lot of public awareness education on the disease was required to prevent outbreaks in a community, especially the crowded colonies. If untreated, the disease could be fatal, he added.
Medical superintendent Dr C E Eapen said, since the meningococcal infection was a notifiable disease, the same was notified to the local public health department. The patients and their close associates were vaccinated in association with the health department. All the 76 households in the Mullipalayam area was being monitored jointly by the officials of the health department and the CMC, to prevent the spread of the disease, he added.