“Meningococcal meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. It is a rare but very serious disease, because within a few hours, even less than 24 hours, it can lead to death despite adequate treatments. 10% of patients die. In 10-20% of survivors there are sequelae in the nervous system, delays in motor stages, hearing loss, blindness, physical damage, paralysis, scars that remain as an indelible mark on the child’s skin “. Thus Elena Bozzola, pediatrician of the Bambino Gesù hospital in Rome and of the Italian Society of Pediatrics, speaking at the Round table ‘Let’s take care of meningitis in Lazio’, a phygital event broadcast live on Facebook and Youtube profiles and on the AdnKronos websitewhich promoted the initiative with the non-conditioning support of GlaxoSmithKline.
“For meningitis – continues Bozzola – we have vaccines that help us prevent it and it is important since the child is small. The disease, in fact, is more frequent in children. In Europe there are 0.6 cases per 100 thousand inhabitants. Italy the value is 0.3 per 100 thousand, but in children less than one year old the invasive disease can reach 3.1-3.3 cases per 100 thousand. Lazio is the second Region that has reported more cases of invasive meningococcal disease among all the Italian regions in recent years, this is why it is important to prevent the disease with vaccination “. In addition, the pediatrician adds, “the B strain is dangerous in children because it is the most frequent in Italy and especially in Lazio. The data from the Higher Institute of Health show that, in children, it represents 88% of infections, against 60% of the Italian average. Vaccination against the B strain is therefore important, but also against the ACWY strains, the quadrivalent, because C, W and Y are serotypes in any case present in the Italian and European reality “.
A surveillance system dedicated to bacterial meningitis has been active in Italy since 1994, which since 2007 has expanded to include all invasive diseases of meningococcus, pneumococcus and haemophilus. The latest available data relating to the results of the surveillance of invasive bacterial diseases in our country are detailed in the report ‘Surveillance of invasive bacterial diseases in Italy. Consolidated Report 2020 ‘, which comments on the data relating to the period 2018-2020.
“With two vaccines we cover most of the meningococci. In Lazio the quadrivalent (ACWY) is free from the year up to 18 years of age. For strain B it is free from 3 months to the fourth year and then from 11 to 18 years “, specifies Maria Teresa Sinopoli, head of the Roma 4 ASL vaccination service.
The dialogue between pediatricians, general practitioners, hygienists, vaccination centers, specialists is the key to giving citizens the information that leads to informed and informed consent. “Pediatricians are widespread throughout the territory and provide fundamental information for the culture of prevention – observes Donatella Morano, family pediatrician of the Italian Federation of pediatric doctors in Rome and the province – A question that parents always ask me concerns the difference between mandatory and recommended vaccines : I try to clarify that in reality everyone is necessary. The difference exists only in the school environment, but all the vaccines that are in the Lea (Essential levels of assistance, ed.) are on an active and free offer. All have their importance. Meningococcal disease is not mandatory simply because meningitis is rare. “
If bacterial meningitis is a rare pathology, which does not lead to large epidemic outbreaks, however, it involves a great danger. “It has a subtle onset, the symptoms are very nuanced and the severity occurs in a short time: we speak of fulminant because there is no time for the diagnosis and, even if you do it, you don’t have time to intervene or you don’t know the results. distance – continues Morano – We also think in terms of costs: the vaccine is the cheapest choice compared to hospitalization. Furthermore there is the example of the United Kingdom where the meningococcal B vaccination, introduced in 2015, quickly reached coverage of about 90% with a 50% reduction of meningococcal disease in vaccinable children, not only in vaccinated, therefore with a very positive impact on the community to be protected “.
The debate was also attended by Roberto Ieraci, infectious disease specialist and vaccinologist from the Lazio Region Vaccination Strategies Group, and Amelia Vitiello, president of the national committee Free from meningitis.