Last Sunday afternoon, I asked my Mother-in-Law to baby sit Naomi for few hours so that my husband and I could attend this event in Kuala Lumpur. It was actually my first time being separated from my baby for more than 3 hours and the moment we hit the Seremban - Kuala Lumpur highway, I already missed my dear baby. However, seemingly my baby didn't miss her Mom at all and was busy playing at her grandparents' home.
Anyway, about an hour after we left Seremban, my husband and I finally reached the Setia City Convention Center where the talk was held.
Welcome to Setia City Convention Centre!
The room set up in the Ballroom for the talk reminded me of my old conferencing days where I used to greet speakers and delegates, make sure the microphone in the podium worked fine, set the power point presentation and all. Ah, those days... Anyhow, it's always a good feeling to be one of the delegates instead of the organizer.
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen!
Back to the main topic - At about 3pm, shortly after the organizer formally opened the event, Dr. Yong Junina Fadzil began her thorough presentation about Invasive Meningococcal Disease (IMD).
Here are some findings about IMD that I learnt from the health talk last Sunday. I find that this topic is quite interesting and important; thus, I think you should know a little about this disease too.
What is IMD?
IMD is a global illness that comes from bacterial infection and may cause meningococcaemia and meningitis. Never heard of these before? Diseases' names mentioned above are rather hard to spell, aren't they? Let me try to explain them in simple words then. The first disease basically attacks the blood vessels and eventually blood leakage will cause severe (and really ugly) rashes in the body. Meanwhile, the second disease is more commonly known as inflammation in the brain. Both diseases are very dangerous and may cause death.
Based on statistics, incidences of IMD over the years mostly happen in UK, Ireland, Sub-Saharan Africa (aka. Meningitis belt) and Australia; however this doesn't mean that IMD never or won't happen in Malaysia. It did, in fact many times, I believe. It's just that the records of the incidences in this country are still vague.
What are the symptoms of IMD?
Early IMD symptoms are very hard to distinguish from common flu symptoms. However, if it's not treated timely, it may cause death within 24 hours. The following are some IMD symptoms that we should not neglect:
First 4-8 hours:
Fever, irritability, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, poor appetite, sore throat, general aches
Next 12-15 hours:
Haemorrhagic rash, neck pain, photophobia (sensitivity to light)
Last 15-24 hours:
Confusion or delirium, seizure, unconsciousness and possible death
Some people survive this deadly bacteria infection, nevertheless the survivors usually become handicapped after battling this disease. The survivors of IMD may suffer from memory loss, speech damage, internal organ damage, amputation, etc. It's just heart-breaking to learn the after-effects of this disease.
How IMD spreads?
International travellers (especially those who travel to Sub-Saharan meningitis belt area) present the opportunities for meningococcal disease exposure and spread. Since meningococcal disease is caused by anaerobic bacteria that lives in human's nose, people who carry these bacteria inside their nose may spread the disease to others through aerosolized droplets (i.e. sneezing) or direct contact (like kissing). The meningococcal carriers may not suffer from the disease themselves but may infect other people around them who are weaker or have under-developed immune systems, such as children.
How to prevent IMD?
Luckily modern technology can prevent the spread of IMD. One way of preventing IMD from getting to us or our children is by getting IMD immunization. It's advisable to get vaccinated before travelling to the Sub-Saharan meningitis belt area where cases of IMD are found very high (for example before doing Hajj pilgrimage) or get your kids vaccinated once you hear that there is an IMD outbreak. Alternatively, it's best to stay away from people who just came back from visiting Sub-Saharan meningitis belt area (including Saudi Arabia) for at least a week or so just to make sure that the IMD bacteria which may reside on those persons are gone.
I understand that I am sharing pretty heavy topic here but it's no harm being aware of this particular subject matter so you can take extra precaution, if necessary.
Last but not least, here's a group photo of the speaker and some of the event's attendees last Sunday.
Dr. Yong Junina Fadzil (left) and us.
I found Dr. Yong Junina Fadzil's Facebook page. Perhaps for further clarifications or inquiries about this disease, it's best to contact her directly.
Meanwhile, stay healthy, people!