Teenagers who lose count of the number of people with whom they have shared intimate kisses are in for trouble, increasing their risk of meningitis, by 4 times, according to a study to be published today.
Researchers discovered that 15- to 19-year-olds who kissed intimately with multiple partners were more likely, almost 3.7 times to get meningococcal disease. Children under 5 and adolescents also are under great risk from the disease, known to cause serious disability and septicemia, which is most often fatal.
Scientists did a comparative study between the lifestyles of older teenagers in hospital who were suffering disease and a healthy group. The scientists have expressed their opinion in the British Medical Journal, which says "We identified a pattern of risk and protection from meningococcal disease in adolescence different from that seen in younger children. Intimate kissing with multiple partners, preceding illness, and being a student conferred higher risk of disease, whereas religious attendance and receipt of meningococcal vaccine were associated with lower risk."
A large portion of the population are carriers of the Meningitis bacteria , that is present in the back of the nose and throat, which gets passed on between people. When the body's immune system is weakened, it gives an opportunity for the invasive infections to attack.
Some alarming statistics: Out of the 124 cases of invasive meningococcal infections, 111 were with the B strain, among 15- to 19-years-olds in England and Wales in 2004. 20 deaths were cause in this age group in 2002 and 13 in 2003. There is no vaccine available for the B strain of the meningococcal infections.
Prof Robert Booy of the National Centre for Immunization Research and Surveillance in Sydney led the research. Immunization with the meningitis C vaccine and religious observance hold the key to staving off chances of being infected.