LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Going off to college means a new lifestyle and new living quarters. With that, comes a new risk for meningitis, particularly among college students living in small spaces and sharing drinks.
Dr. Fatma Levent, a Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist, says don't forget the meningitis vaccine is available and recommended in several doses because the disease itself can become life threatening overnight.
She explains, "Meningitis is definitely a scary illness. If you get it, you can die from it and it can go really fast and make you very, very sick. So, it is very important to get protected and there is a new vaccine in addition to the previous one. We usually give it at age 11 or 12 and then at age 16 right before they go to college." Since the meningitis vaccine is more than one dose, Dr. Levent says make sure your child is fully immunized before going to college.
As for younger kids in school, she says parents can expect some back to school bugs to circulate in classrooms, with respiratory, diarrheal and pink eye viruses among the most common.
She says even though we see strep all year, it's more common during the school year among school aged kids because it's so contagious. And she says pink eye is another problem that spreads easily because all it takes is for an infected child to rub his eye, then touch somebody else who then touches their eye.
So when do you keep kids home from school if they appear sick but you don't know if they are contagious?
Dr. Levent talks about that in the interview.
Her strongest advice is to remind kids, even the big ones going off to college, that your best protection against any illness is frequent hand washing, especially after using the bathroom and always before eating.