As I come of age and start to put more focus on starting a family, I have a growing concern for the affects my experience with meningitis will have on my family. 90% of the population is living with either HSV 1 or 2. Many are living with both. Herpes is still a delicate matter although it has become a “common” virus within our culture. It is still a matter we would rather whisper about than face head on. There is no good or bad herpes, there is just herpes and as commonplace as herpes is today, it can be dangerous.
How dangerous is a cold sore? Herpes has been around for a long time and so has meningitis. The scary part is the two combined. Herpes and meningitis have always been linked. Herpes is a virus and when active either internally or externally can become infected causing swelling of the meninges in the brain and spinal cord. Herpes meningitis is not new. Meningitis has been known to exist as early as the 18th century and herpes even longer. Herpes meningitis is a severe condition with long term side effects. A form of viral meningitis, herpes meningitis can be recurrent independently and along with herpes outbreaks. Herpes is spread so easily. As a family unit it is almost impossible to keep your herpes to yourself. Herpes can be spread through close contact of shared items such as water bottles, chap sticks, flatware, towels and so forth.
Like many, I grew up attending school where every year (sometimes) multiple times a year, we would be crammed into a room and lectured about puberty, sex, pregnancy and STD’s. No one ever told us not to share our favorite juice with our best friend because we might get herpes that could cause meningitis. However, learning about how many teens and college students have either faced meningitis or have known someone that has gives me the chills. More and more people are reporting meningitis symptoms as a result of a herpes outbreak. A herpes outbreak is terrible for an adult that doesn’t contract meningitis but imagine your child contracting a herpes cold sore even in the absence of an outbreak. Now take it a step further and consider a child, your child with meningitis as a result of contracting HSV-1 from a share water bottle.
The good news is states are requiring that schools provide educational/informational material about the dangers of meningitis. Students are bring this information home. However, schools are also not making it a priority to educate young people about all of the dangers of meningitis because there are so many and yes talking about how contracting any type of herpes may still be too taboo for school but it is worth saving lives.
At the end of the day it is up to us to educate and protect our families and to instill in one another the increased dangers of viruses such as HSV1 and 2. Since meningitis is typically caused as result of another virus or bacteria, we may never reach the complete eradication of every strain but we can start by empowering ourselves and families with preventative measures.
About Daisi Pollard Sepúlveda-Low
Daisi Pollard Sepúlveda-Low a professional model and beauty queen who survived meningitis in 2006. She is the National President of the Meningitis Foundation of America. Daisi’s mission is to provide informative resources about the risks and dangers of meningitis. For information about Daisi and meningitis, visit www.DaisiPollard.com and www.MUSA.org.
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