I am scared to death about meningitis. My three-year-old daughter had her meningitis C vaccination last December but, according to our GP, the more common and deadly type is meningitis B. However, the vaccine for this is not available in the UK, apparently because it’s too expensive. Please could you give me some advice.
The brain is full of soft cells, which are highly specialized and very delicate. They are protected by the skull, the membranes that cover the brain and the spinal cord,and by cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), a saline solution full of glucose, oxygen and some white blood cells. There is also the blood-brain barrier which protects the brain from chemical damage. Sometimes, however, it is unable to perform this role because of the sheer volume of toxins.
The meninges are the membranes covering the brain, which are full of blood vessels. Meningitis is the inflammation of the meninges. There are two causes of meningitis: viruses and bacteria Viral meningitis is debilitating but not as severe as bacterial meningitis, which is less common but can be fatal. The most usual causes of meningitis in children are two bacteria: Hoemophilus influenzae and Neisseria meningitidis. N meningitidis, which causes meningococcal meningitis, is the most common type, accounting for about half the cases in the UK. Most children under the age of six with meningitis used to be affected by H influenzae type B (Hib) but after the Hib vaccination was introduced in 1992 this strain, became rare. N meningitides A, B and C are the most common here. Epidemics are usually caused by N meningitidis type A or C.
I don’t administer vaccinations, but I am told by the Meningitis Trust (see below) and the Department of Health that, contrary to what your doctor seems to have said, effective vaccines for N meningitidis type B are still some years away. Vaccination against N meningitidis type C and Hib are routine in the childhood immunisation programme. (A booster jab against Hib has just been introduced for children aged between six months and four years.)
The bacteria are highly toxic. They attack the nasal tract and invade the bloodstream. Their main target is the brain. When they reach the blood-brain barrier, they destroy the defence system, enter the CSF and attack the brain cells. As the infection spreads, the fluid becomes pus-like, with white blood cells, proteins and extra fluid all trying to fight the infection. Because the brain is affected, the patient gets all sorts of neurological symptoms, including headaches, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, seizures, cramps, blurred vision, loss of sensation in the body and even coma. Sufferers may get Bell’s palsy and/or severe tightness of the neck muscles. Because it is a toxic infection, the temperature soars and red spots with small dots of dead tissue in the centre appear on the body two or three days after the infection takes hold.
Doctors diagnose meningitis by testing the spinal fluid, and possibly blood cultures. This is a dangerous infection and there is no alternative cure. If there is any suspicion of meningitis, a doctor must be consulted immediately and antibiotic therapy administered in case of need.
However, I always recommend that parents improve their children’s chances against all illness, including meningitis, by keeping them healthy and boosting their immune system.
Here are my suggestions
* Don’t let children get tired out; put them to bed early every night and avoid too much TV and computer use.
* Children should eat carrots, celery and cucumber regularly but have citrus fruits (or juices) only as an occasional treat.
* Train children to avoid foods containing yeast (pizza and bread in particular) and excess sugar( sweets, ice cream, chocolate, cakes, biscuits, etc). These cause them to bloat and become hyperactive so that they tire easily.
* Make sure they have good-quality protein, including eggs (boiled), fish, chicken and meat (preferably all organic) to encourage growth.
* Massage children at bedtime with Junior Massage Oil to boost their energy; make your own with one tablespoon of sweet almond oil and four drops each of eucalyptus, lavender, ginger and juniper essential oils.
* Give children Vitasorb Multivitamins, six drops daily, and Nutrisorb Liquid Trace Minerals – one or two drops daily, in a cycle of three months on, then one month off.
* Give children of three and over the energy-boosting herbal supplement Bioprash three times weekly – one teaspoonful with one teaspoonful of manuka honey and a little water. Symptoms are described in full on the Meningitis Trust website, or call their 24hour helpline on 0845 6000 800.