Summary of Study Session 3
In Study Session 3, you have learned that:
- Vaccine-preventable diseases are communicable diseases that can be prevented by immunization with vaccines containing weakened or killed infectious organisms or their toxins.
- Vaccination increases the level of immunity in the body to the infectious agents that were used to make the harmless vaccine.
- Tuberculosis, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, meningococcal meningitis and streptococcal pneumonia are the commonest and the most important bacterial vaccine-preventable diseases.
- Tetanus and meningococcal meningitis are bacterial vaccine-preventable diseases that cause many deaths of children and adults in developing countries.
- Tetanus bacteria (Clostridium tetani) live in the soil and enter the body through wounds, breaks in the skin and, in the newborn, in the umbilical cord after it has been cut.
- The symptoms and signs of tetanus include rigid posture, stiffness in the jaw and neck, difficulty in swallowing, sweating, fever, stiffness in the stomach muscles and muscular spasms.
- Clean delivery of babies by trained health professionals, and vaccination of children and women in the reproductive age groups with tetanus toxoid (TT) vaccine, are the most important strategies for preventing neonatal tetanus.
- Meningococcal meningitis is caused by Neisseria meningitidis (or the meningococcus bacteria); they are passed from person to person in airborne droplets when the infected host coughs or sneezes, sometimes causing epidemics.
- A person who has signs of meningitis, such as high fever, neck stiffness,lethargy and loss of consciousness, or bulging of the fontanelle in babies, should be referred immediately to the nearest hospital or health centre.
- Cases of tetanus or meningococcal meningitis in the community should be reported to the District Health Office.