Patient Perspectives: Protecting Your Family Against Meningitis B

Watch a roundtable discussion with people whose lives have been changed by Meningitis B, a serious and life-threatening bacterial infection.


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You're not invincible as a 20-something that when you feel very, very sick, you need to go to the hospital.
I'm Dr. David Hill. I'm a pediatrician practicing in Wilmington and Goldsboro, North Carolina. And today, I'm joined by John and Eileen,
and Tim, John and Eileen lost a daughter to meningitis type B, and also by Andy, who survived meningitis type B.
And we're also here with Linda, who has one college-aged child and one high school-aged child,
and she is really trying to determine the best way to protect her children from meningitis type B.
So I want to thank all of you for being here today. Andy, can you tell us a little bit
about what this thing is, and then I'd love to hear a little bit from John and Eileen as well.
Sure. It's a bacterial infection. It starts in your spinal cord and then, from there, it's,
you know, it's able to either travel up to the brain and kind of infect and inflame the brain and can cause brain damage or hearing loss, vision loss,
or, like, in my case, it traveled out into my bloodstream, which can be just as serious because there it can cause organ failure and limb
loss. And so it's an infection that moves incredibly quickly and can be very deadly
in a short period of time. I remember learning about it in school, and I didn't know there were five [serogroups] and I didn't know that one vaccine Kate received was only covering
four. That there is a strain that needs an extra vaccine, two doses, and that's out there now.
It wasn't there for Kate before, and we're all about having everyone get it. So it's something a lot of people are learning about.
There are different kinds of the vaccine, and they usually require multiple doses.
So be sure and talk to your doctor about what kind is available, what the dosing schedule is, and ensuring that whatever you start with
is the one that you end with. I just want to make sure that I'm pretty clear to my kids, especially the one that's
already in college, what symptoms they really need to recognize either in themselves or in their friends.
And I think you make a good point about watching out for their friends because that was literally life-saving for me.
I think, you know, the flu-like symptoms are going to happen sometimes, but then if they're accompanied by stuff like that purple rash that
doesn't blanch when you press on it or the really severe stiff neck. How fast did your symptoms come on?
Like, was it 24 hours, or-- So I was fine during the day, the day before,
and then around about seven or eight PM that night, I started to feel like I had
the flu, nauseous, cold sweats. It wasn't until the next morning, fairly early
the next morning, probably around five or six, when I first got up to get a drink, that's when I felt like, wow, I've got this weird pain in my feet.
And that's also when I noticed that I had those purple spots on my arms. Within a few hours of those symptoms,
I was essentially incapacitated. Would not have been able to leave my bed if my friends hadn't come in and saved me.
That leg pain is something that stood out with Kate. Everything, all her limbs hurt within 12 hours.
Can you tell us a little bit more about your outreach and awareness efforts? Yes.
As a family, we decided to go ahead and start a scholarship in her name up at Marist.
So we have an annual bike ride here in Babylon on Long Island, and we raise money and distribute
it half to the school and the other half to the meningitis foundation for research and awareness. It's really, it's a pleasant day, and it feels good.
I did write a book about my experience. I've gone and testified at multiple state legislatures.
I've also spoken to, I would say, dozens of high school classes and letting them know about the vaccines and about the symptoms.
And what sort of takeaways do you have, you think, from what these people are sharing with you? Well, obviously, I'll talk to the pediatrician.
My daughter has a checkup in July, so it's perfect timing. And then, also, I appreciate all the information on the symptoms, and I'll share that information with my kids
so they're aware of that too. I just hope everybody really can get this vaccine. It's one of those things where that if it does happen to you,

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