Bacterial meningitis, the most serious form, can cause inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord, a blood infection, or both. The disease can be difficult to diagnose because symptoms like headache, fever and nausea can be similar to those of more common conditions like the flu. But meningitis becomes serious very quickly and can kill within 48 hours. Up to 15 percent of those who get meningitis will die, and of those who survive, one in five will have lasting effects like brain damage, hearing loss or limb amputation.
People of any age can get meningitis, but those most at risk include very young children, adolescents and, especially, those living in close quarters like college dormitories. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the meningococcal vaccine for everyone aged 11 to 18 years old. Those who are headed off to college should have a booster shot if their original dose was given at least five years earlier.
"My five-year-old niece Tess passed away from this disease, leading me to sponsor Senate Bill 275 to create Meningitis Awareness Day each year on March 9. Because meningitis is relatively rare, parents and students may be unaware just how deadly it can be and unaware that it is preventable with vaccination. Meningitis Awareness Day is one step toward helping ensure that other families will not know the devastation of losing a child to meningitis...", - said Senator Cliff Hite - "I thank my colleagues in the General Assembly for supporting Senate Bill 275 and making Meningitis Awareness Day a reality. Now as my family remembers Tess each year on March 9, we will also know that there is indeed something we can do to help keep other children safe and healthy. To help honor Tessí memory, I encourage all of our college students to get vaccinated before heading off to school this year. Help us all stop another avoidable tragedy by taking the time to get knowledgeable about this disease."
The ninth day of March is designated as "Meningitis Awareness Day." (ORC: 5.2292 Meningitis Awareness Day; Tessís Law. Added by 130th General Assembly File No. TBD, SB 275, ß1, eff. 9/4/2014.)