Dubai, United Arab Emirates, September 25, 2014: Adult vaccination against pneumococcal diseases like meningitis, respiratory infections and pneumonia, can save lives and prevent these infections from spreading. It has been noticed in Gulf countries, that understanding of the potential of adult vaccination in prevention of diseases and awareness on pneumococcal diseases is very low, posing a major cause of concern. To address the issue, Dr. Fatma Mahmood Al-Attar- Head of Preventive Services Center – Dubai Health Authority(DHA) has called for mass awareness on pneumococcal diseases and the need to undertake adult vaccination.
“Risk groups for pneumococcal diseases include adults over the age of50, adults with comorbidities like type 2 diabetes mellitus, hematological malignancy, organ and bone marrow transplantation or chronic cardiovascular, kidney or lung diseases as well as pilgrims undertaking the Hajj. Ageing has been widely recognized as a risk factor due to natural weakening of the body’s immune system and susceptibility to infection. In UAE, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus is among the highest in the world, ensuring that this co-morbidity is a substantial risk factor for pneumococcal disease,” says Dr. Fatma Mahmood Al-Attar.
Mass gatherings such as Hajj, provide the ideal overcrowded conditions for the transmission of infections2 and it has long been linked to a number of epidemics and outbreaks of some diseases. Community-acquired pneumonia has been identified as the most common cause of hospitalization during Hajj. Pilgrims are exposed to severe infections like meningitis, respiratory tract infections (upper and lower) tuberculosis, viral infections, polio virus, blood borne diseases, food poisoning and zoonotic diseases. Health risks can also involve trauma, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, sunburn and dehydration.
“We have noticed that instance of pneumococcal diseases is always under-reported. While the notification service for infectious diseases in Dubai, UAE, receives an average of 11,000 infectious disease notifications annually, pneumonia is not highly represented in this sample, and there is no specification of stereotype, indicating the need for improving awareness and notification. Adult vaccination, especially pneumococcal vaccination is a must for not only pilgrims travelling for Hajj but for everyone in the risk category. Health complications and fatalities posed by these diseases are preventable and we must take all necessary measures to protect ourselves,” adds Dr. Fatma.
Adult vaccination facilities are offered by various organizations in UAE, where doctors work with each patient individually to ascertain the best course of vaccination to be undertaken.
About Pneumococcal Diseases
Pneumococcal Diseases is complex and describes a group of illnesses caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. pneumoniae). Individuals who carry S. pneumoniae in their nasal passages may potentially expose others to the risk of PD through close contact via respiratory droplets that are sneezed, coughed, or exhaled containing S. pneumoniae bacteria. Not all individuals who are exposed to S. pneumoniae will become ill. Non-invasive PD occurs outside the major organs or the blood, and includes non-bacteremic/non-invasive pneumococcal pneumonia (an acute respiratory infection that affects the lungs, without accompanying bacteria in the blood), sinusitis (infection of the nasal sinuses, more often found in adults) and acute otitis media (AOM – commonly known as middle ear infection). While invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) is less common than non-invasive pneumococcal disease it is usually more serious18 write correct reference number. It occurs when bacteria invade parts of the body that are normally free from bacteria, such as blood or spinal fluid, and includes bacteraemic pneumonia (lung infection with bacteria in the blood), bacteraemia (bacteria in the blood) and meningitis (infection of the tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord).3