Successful Vaccination Efforts in Mendoza Keep Meningitis Cases at Bay
With more than 90% vaccination coverage, the province of Mendoza has managed to escape the rising national rates of meningitis cases. In the past six years, there have been only 4 to 6 reported cases per year, with no increases in recent years.
Thursday, June 22, 202300:00 hs
Epidemiological Report Raises Concerns about Meningitis Cases in Argentina
A recent epidemiological report released by the Ministry of Health of the Nation has raised alarms regarding the doubling of meningitis cases nationwide in 2022. This increase is a direct consequence of the low vaccination rates against this disease during the coronavirus pandemic.
“In 2022, there was evidence of an increase in the number of cases of pneumococcal meningitis in most age groups compared to previous years. The number more than doubled compared to the 2020-2021 period and increased by 27% compared to 2019,” reads the bulletin, focusing on the epidemiological situation in Buenos Aires, CABA, Chaco, Córdoba, and Santa Fe.
However, the data provided by the Ministry of Health of Mendoza indicates that the province is not experiencing the same trend. Mendoza has not seen any growth in meningitis cases over the past six years and exceeds the national average in vaccination rates against this infection.
According to local statistics, there were four patients with meningitis in 2018, seven cases in 2019, three cases in 2020, and no reported cases in 2021. In 2022, there were four cases, and as of now in 2023, there have been two cases.
The Minister of Health, Ana María Nadal, addressed the situation in the province, stating, “What the national report is showing is a post-pandemic effect. Although in Mendoza we have very good vaccination rates, coverage has decreased in some regions throughout the country. This explains why meningitis cases are appearing, emphasizing the importance of complete vaccination schedules to recover historical coverage levels.”
Nadal further emphasized the importance of vaccination campaigns in schools and hospitals to prevent the disease. She stated, “In Mendoza, we do not have an alarmingly high number of cases like in CABA and AMBA,” referring to the Buenos Aires metropolitan area.
Meningitis: A Serious Illness
Meningitis is a severe inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain. The most common cause is an infection, with viruses and bacteria being the primary culprits. Bacterial meningitis can be life-threatening and may lead to permanent neurological damage if not promptly treated with antibiotics.
One of the bacteria that can cause meningitis is the meningococcus. It can result in invasive meningococcal disease, including meningitis and sepsis, which are serious and potentially fatal infections. These infections can also cause irreversible consequences such as amputations, hearing loss, or severe neurological damage.
The Director of Epidemiology of the province, Andrea Falaschi, highlighted that Mendoza has very low incidence rates per 100,000 inhabitants for the germs that cause meningitis. She explained, “For pneumococcus, it is 0.1 per 100,000 inhabitants, for Haemophilus Influenzae, it is 0.1 per 100,000 inhabitants, and for meningococcus, it is 0.08 per 100,000.”
Falaschi stressed the importance of completing vaccination schedules, both in early childhood and adolescence. She noted that there is often a relaxation in vaccination rates during adolescence, despite good overall rates in Mendoza.
High Vaccination Rates in Mendoza
The Chief of Immunizations of Mendoza, Iris Aguilar, stated that the province surpasses the national average in vaccination rates against meningitis. The goal of the health system is to achieve 100% coverage.
The pneumococcal vaccine, which protects against 13 strains of the bacteria, is administered at two, four, and twelve months of age. Mendoza has a coverage rate of 93.8% for the first dose, 92% for the second dose, and 87% for the reinforcement dose.
For the pentavalent vaccine, which includes protection against Haemophilus Influenzae type B, the coverage rates in Mendoza are 93.9% for the first dose, 92.7% for the second dose, and 90% for the third dose. The reinforcement dose is given between 15 and 18 months of age.
Aguilar also provided percentages for the vaccine against meningococcus A, C, W, and Y. The coverage rate for the first dose is 90%, and for the second dose, it is 86%.
Furthermore, Aguilar highlighted that viral meningitis is more common than bacterial meningitis, although bacterial cases are more severe.
The Importance of Prevention
Falaschi explained how meningitis can occur, stating, “Children carry the germs in their throats. When their immune system weakens, the germs can enter the bloodstream and cause invasive diseases. Certain conditions make children more susceptible to these diseases.”
The symptoms of meningitis can vary depending on the age of the person. In infants, common symptoms include irritability, fever, refusal to eat, excessive sleepiness, and intense crying. In older children, symptoms may include headache, sleepiness, irritability, fever, sensitivity to light, neck stiffness, and nausea/vomiting.
It is crucial to seek medical attention for a proper diagnosis, as the symptoms of meningitis can resemble those of other medical conditions.
In adulthood, it is important to receive vaccine boosters, especially for individuals over 65 years of age with risk factors. Specialists recommend considering that many bacteria and viruses responsible for meningitis are prevalent in our environment.
Adopting good hygiene habits is essential in preventing meningitis. Measures such as frequent handwashing, avoiding direct contact with visibly ill individuals, and refraining from sharing food, drinks, or objects can help reduce the risk of infection.
We Have Something to Offer You
With your subscription, you can browse without limits, access exclusive content, and much more. You can also add Andes Pass to enjoy discounts at hundreds of shops!
The province of Mendoza in Argentina has successfully kept meningitis cases at bay through high vaccination coverage. While the country has experienced a doubling of meningitis cases in 2022, Mendoza has not seen any increases in recent years. The Minister of Health of Mendoza attributes this to the post-pandemic effect and emphasizes the importance of complete vaccination schedules. Mendoza exceeds the national average in vaccination rates against meningitis, with coverage rates as high as 93.8% for the pneumococcal vaccine and 93.9% for the pentavalent vaccine. The director of epidemiology in Mendoza also highlights the low incidence rates for the germs that cause meningitis in the province. The success of Mendoza’s vaccination efforts serves as an example for other regions in Argentina.
How has the high vaccination coverage in Mendoza contributed to keeping meningitis cases at bay, despite a national increase in cases?
Mendoza’s high vaccination coverage has played a crucial role in keeping meningitis cases at bay, even during a national increase in cases.
The region has prioritized comprehensive vaccination programs, ensuring the majority of the population is protected against meningitis-causing bacteria. Meningococcal vaccines, such as the meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY) and the meningococcal serogroup B vaccine (MenB), have been widely administered in Mendoza.
By vaccinating a high percentage of the population, the spread of meningitis-causing bacteria is significantly reduced. This leads to a lower overall prevalence of the disease within the community, thus minimizing the chances of meningitis outbreaks.
Additionally, high vaccination coverage provides a level of herd immunity. This means that even unvaccinated individuals are less likely to contract the disease because the majority of the population is immunized and unable to spread the bacteria.
Furthermore, Mendoza’s proactive approach in maintaining and promoting vaccination campaigns ensures that individuals of all age groups have access to vaccines. This includes both children and adults, as meningitis can affect people of all ages.
Overall, the high vaccination coverage in Mendoza has created a protective barrier against meningitis, contributing to the prevention of cases even when the rest of the country experiences an increase in infections.