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
· 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
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.
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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Copyright 2003 by Pecos Enterprise