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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Increase of meningococcal

disease anticipated by TDH

While not as common as the cold or flu, meningococcal disease (frequently a meningitis) is in season. While meningococcal disease occurs year round, now through the end of March, generally is the time when meningitis is most likely to appear, according to the Texas Department of Health (TDH).

"Meningococcal disease is a serious, potentially deadly condition that can progress extremely quickly, so prompt medical attention is critical," said Neil Pasco, a TDH nurse epidemiologist. "As meningitis, it is an inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. A blood-stream infection can occur by itself or with meningitis," he said.

The disease strikes about 3,000 (about one in 100,000) people a year in the United States. This includes as many as 125 on college campuses, and leading to five to 15 deaths among college students every year.

Once the bacteria enter the bloodstream, deadly toxins cause the blood to clot, cutting off the blood supply to critical organs or limbs. The bacteria also may infect the lining of membranes surrounding the spinal cord and brain, sometimes leading to permanent brain damage that may include behavior changes, hearing loss or seizures.

Symptoms of the disease include sudden onset of fever, intense headaches, stiff neck or back, a skin rash of small red or purplish patches, behavior changes, sensitivity to light and nausea often with vomiting. The incubation period is typically three to four days but can range from two to 10 days.

"Anyone with these symptoms should see a doctor immediately," said Pascoe.

Bacteria that cause meningitis are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the same air as a person with meningitis. The germs often live in the noses and throats of people without making them sick, but these bacteria do not live long outside the body.

The disease is transmitted when people exchange saliva (such as kissing, sharing drinking containers, utensils, cigarettes or toothbrushes) or otherwise come into direct contact with respiratory or throat secretions.

Various upper respiratory infections flourish in winter due to increased close indoor contact. People can reduce their risk of infection, including the potentially deadly meningococcal disease, by following a few common-sense precautions.

· Maintain personal space. As little as 36 inches will significantly reduce the potential to inhale virus or bacteria an infected person may transmit by sneezing or coughing.

· Never share beverages, straws or containers. People should have their own beverage containers such as water bottles, cups or cans.

· Don't share cigarettes. Smoking irritates the lungs and throat, making them more vulnerable to infection. Smokers who share the same cigarette may infect each other with a communicable disease.

· Don't share food. Do not allow others to take a bite of your sandwich or piece of fruit and do not share eating utensils.

· Wash hands frequently. Frequent hand washing will remove germs that may have been picked up from contaminated surfaces.

· Get a flu shot. If you carry the bacteria in your nose and throat, protecting yourself from influenza of a cold may decrease the likelihood of self-infection.

Family members or close contacts of people with meningococcal disease are advised to take antibiotics to reduce their risk of getting the illness.

Study club plans meeting

The Modern Study Club will meet at 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 26, in the parlor of the First Christian Church for a Federation Day Program with Lena Harpham, Federation Counselor, as chairman.

Western District President Joyce Goldwire of Sanderson will be a special guest of the club and will present the program entitled, "Pathways to Federation: Our TFWC-WD President will lead us through the gardens as we learn of Federation."

The thought-quote for the program is "Working together we can meet any goal we set ­ our long GFWC history is proof of that." D. Judith Lutz ­ GFWC International President.

Roll call will be answered by members stating goals of The Modern Study Club in Pecos.

The bi-monthly project emphasis for this meeting is participation in community projects in Pecos.

Margie Williamson, Joyce Morton and Phyllis Stool will share hostess duties for the gathering.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.

324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321

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