Munich (ots) – The symptoms of blood poisoning – sepsis – can initially be very unspecific and flu-like. Diagnosis is therefore very difficult at this early stage, which is one of the reasons for the high death rate from blood poisoning. However, many sepsis-related deaths can be prevented through prevention.
Vaccinations are central. “They are among the most important achievements in medicine that can prevent diseases and save lives,” explains pediatrician Dr. Michael Horn. This is currently becoming clear once again during the corona pandemic. Vaccinations can also provide the best possible protection against some triggers of blood poisoning, for example against meningococcal bacteria.
The youngest are particularly at risk
Fortunately, bacterial sepsis from meningococci is rare, but it can become life-threatening within a few hours. The bacteria are usually transmitted as droplet infections and, in addition to blood poisoning (sepsis), they can also cause meningitis. Babies and toddlers are particularly at risk because their immune systems are not yet fully developed.
Unspecific and flu-like symptoms make diagnosis difficult
Meningococcal disease often begins with vague and flu-like symptoms. This makes diagnosis difficult at an early stage. Fever, vomiting, drowsiness, cramps and, in babies, a bulging or hard fontanel – the gap between the skull plates – can occur. In the case of septic courses, skin hemorrhages, a drop in blood pressure and organ failure occur. If there is any suspicion, parents should go to the pediatrician or the nearest hospital with their child as soon as possible. Every minute counts, because the sooner antibiotic therapy can be started, the more likely it is that serious consequential damage can be avoided. Blood poisoning can result in scarring, skin and tissue destruction, and in extreme cases even amputations. Every tenth sick person dies, and in the case of severe blood poisoning, almost every third person dies.
Various vaccinations are available against meningococci
“Vaccinations enable doctors to maintain health and prevent suffering – according to the principle of ‘prevention is better than cure’. As long as there are infectious diseases, we can protect ourselves against them in the best possible way with vaccinations,” emphasizes Dr. Horn. In his practice he advises many parents about protection against meningococci. Various vaccinations are available for this in Germany. Vaccination against meningococci of group C is recommended by the Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) as a standard for all children aged twelve months. However, it does not protect against the other groups of meningococci. Dr. Horn therefore always informs the parents about the further options: “The vaccine against meningococcal C was approved as the first meningococcal vaccine; the research on the other two vaccines took longer. However, there is now also a single vaccination against group B and a combination vaccine. Vaccination against the groups ACWY. This is important because meningococci B are currently responsible for most diseases in Germany, followed by Y and C. ” Parents should seek advice from their pediatrician at an early stage. Many health insurances reimburse the additional possible vaccinations in full or in part on request – it is worth asking!
More information is also available at www.meningitis-bewegt.de.
 German Green Cross: “Frequently asked questions and answers about meningococcal diseases”. Available at: https://bit.ly/2X7aroA. June 2021.
 BZgA: “Pathogen profile meningococci”. Available at: https://bit.ly/32Bnccl. June 2021
 RKI: “Guide to Meningococci”. Available at: https://bit.ly/2X9spqp. June 2021.
 RKI: “Epidemiological Bulletin 34/2020”. Available at: https://bit.ly/3jhaiJ0. June 2021.
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