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Actress Helps Promote New Campaign for Meningitis Vaccine
Date:9/11/2009

together, dormitories. So, it's a higher risk category."

"And this is a bacterial infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord that can kill a healthy child or a healthy teen in as little as one day, and leave survivors with lifelong complications," cautioned Amy Garcia, a registered nurse and executive director of NASN.

Meningococcal disease can result from either a viral or bacterial infection, spread through air droplets and/or direct contact with individuals who are infected, according to the National Meningitis Association.

Though the viral version is considered far less harmful to patients, the more rare bacterial form is serious business for the approximately 3,000 Americans -- 30 percent of whom are teens and young adults -- who come down with that form of the disease each year.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the bacterial form of the disease -- in which bacteria attach to the mucosal lining of the nose and throat before entering the bloodstream and prompting organ failure -- is lethal in about 10 percent to 12 percent of cases. Those who survive may develop lifelong complications, including brain damage and/or limb amputation.

"So, while it's a relatively rare disease it can be absolutely devastating," Garcia warned. "And the point is that the death rate is five times higher among the recommended vaccination age group then among other age groups. So as a parent and a nurse, I encourage moms and dads to think about whether or not your teen has been protected. And if not, go online to voicesofmeningitis.org to learn more, and call your health provider to schedule an appointment for vaccination because I want teens to receive this vaccine before they need it."

Garcia described the symptoms as "tricky" to discern, since they often seem to be the product of a mild illness before progressing rapidly.

"Usually, they'll be a severe headache, stif
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