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Denver School Nurses Unite Community in the Fight against Meningitis, a Potentially Deadly Disease
Date:6/15/2011

DENVER, June 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Colorado Association of School Nurses (CASN) has joined with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, among other local organizations, on the Denver Voices of Meningitis campaign to help educate parents of preteens and teens about the dangers of meningitis and importance of vaccination.  Meningococcal disease is a rare, but serious bacterial infection that can cause meningitis and kill an otherwise healthy young person in just a single day.

In Colorado, approximately 54 percent of adolescents have been vaccinated against meningococcal disease, far below the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) goal of an 80 percent vaccination rate.  In the United States, about 10 percent of the 1,000 to 2,600 Americans who get meningococcal disease each year will die.  For survivors, one in five is left with serious medical problems, such as amputation of limbs, brain damage, deafness and organ damage.

"Although vaccination rates have improved, too many adolescents still have not been immunized, leaving them at risk for this often devastating disease," said Amy Asher, RN, member of CASN.  "We, the 'voices' of meningitis, are calling on all Denver parents to vaccinate their children and 'Pass the Voice' to anyone who will listen.  We owe it to our children to help protect them from potentially harmful diseases."  

Preteens and teens are at greater risk for meningitis and public health officials recommend meningococcal vaccination.  Activities common among Denver adolescents, such as kissing, spending long periods of time with large groups and sharing water bottles or drinking glasses can increase their risk for contracting the disease.

Denver resident Donna Sentel knows firsthand how dangerous meningitis can be.  Donna lost her daughter Elizabeth to meningococcal meningitis when she was a sophomore in college.

"I want to help prevent the harmful effects of meningitis from happening to others in the Denver area," said Mrs. Sentel.  "This disease may be prevented through vaccination.  I strongly urge parents to vaccinate their children and 'Pass the Voice' to other parents with teenage children."

Every health-care visit is an opportunity to discuss meningococcal vaccination.  Vaccination has been available for years and is a safe and effective way to help prevent meningitis, according to Ms. Asher.

About Voices of Meningitis

The Voices of Meningitis campaign brings together the many "voices" of meningitis – school nurses, parents whose children have been affected by the disease, survivors of meningococcal meningitis and public health professionals – to raise awareness about the dangers of meningococcal meningitis and the importance of prevention for preteens and teens.  

Voices of Meningitis includes educational materials for the public and health-care providers, as well as a public service campaign featuring school nurses, disease survivors and families affected by meningitis.  The campaign also features a comprehensive website, www.VoicesOfMeningitis.org, and Facebook page, "Raise Your Voice Against Meningitis," where visitors can hear the compelling stories of families that have been personally affected by meningitis and learn how they can raise their voices to help spread awareness about the importance of vaccination for preteens and teens.

About Meningococcal Disease

Meningococcal disease is a serious infection that can cause meningitis (swelling of the brain or spinal cord) or meningococcemia (blood infection).  The disease can be spread through common everyday activities, such as sharing drinking glasses, living in close quarters like dormitories or overnight summer camps and kissing.  Meningococcal disease can be hard to recognize, especially in its early stages, because symptoms are similar to those of more common viral illnesses.  Unlike more common illnesses, the disease can progress quickly and may cause death or disability in just a single day.

Meningococcal vaccination is recommended for preteens and teens.  Parents should talk to their child's school nurse or health-care provider for more information.

Vaccines are available for people who wish to reduce their risk for contracting the disease.

About the National Association of School Nurses

The National Association of School Nurses is a non-profit specialty nursing organization, organized in 1968 and incorporated in 1977, representing school nurses exclusively.  NASN has over 14,000 members and 51 affiliates, including the District of Columbia and overseas.  The mission of the NASN is "to improve the health and educational success of children and youth by developing and providing leadership to advance the school nursing practice."  The Colorado Association of School Nurses (CASN) is an affiliate of the NASN.

For More Information

For more information about the Voices of Meningitis educational initiative, visit www.VoicesOfMeningitis.org.  For information about the National Association of School Nurses, or for state specific information, visit www.nasn.org or call 866-627-6767.  

Voices of Meningitis is a program of the National Association of School Nurses in collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi.


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SOURCE National Association of School Nurses
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