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Dara Torres Interview

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Did you know that Meningococcal meningitis, although rare, can be deadly. In fact, it can potentially kill an otherwise healthy teen in less than 24 hours. And what’s equally as shocking, a national survey revealed that more than two in three mothers have little to no knowledge of the CDC’s recommendations to prevent meningococcal meningitis.

With this in mind, 12-time Olympic medalist and mom, Dara Torres, recently chatted with us on behalf of the Voices of Meningitis campaign to increase awareness about this disease. Check out more of our interview below to learn about theVoices of Meningitis campaign – an initiative from the National Association of School Nurses and Sanofi Pasteur aimed to help educate and motivate parents to help protect their teens and speak with their health care provider about meningococcal meningitis vaccination and more from Dara.

Momtrends:How did you get involved with the cause to support Meningococcal Meningitis?

Dara Torres: As a mother, I can’t imagine the grief one feels after losing a child. Therefore, I want to do what I can to raise awareness and help prevent meningococcal meningitis from taking another young person’s life. Interestingly, a national survey found that more than two in three mothers have little to no knowledge of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendations for prevention of meningococcal meningitis -- a disease that although rare, can potentially kill in 24 hours. The CDC recommendation advises that a child receive one dose of vaccine at age 11 or 12 years, followed by a second vaccination at age 16.

Because there is a lack of awareness, I have been visiting communities across the country and swimming 24 laps to symbolize how quickly the disease can potentially take a life and encouraging parents to talk with their child’s health care provider to make sure their child is up-to-date with all of his/her vaccinations. I also want to encourage all of your readers to visit, to learn more information about how they can protect their children from meningococcal meningitis.

Momtrends: What exactly is Meningococcal meningitis?

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Dara Torres: Meningococcal meningitis is a serious bacterial infection that includes swelling of the tissues around the brain and spinal cord. Meningococcal meningitis develops rapidly and can claim the life of an otherwise healthy person in as little as one day after the first symptoms appear. As such, common everyday activities can play a role in disease spread, including kissing; sharing utensils and water bottles; and being in close quarters, such as living in a dormitory or staying at a sleep-away summer camp. Fatigue may also put people at greater risk of meningococcal disease, possibly by weakening the immune system.

Momtrends: Can it be prevented?

Dara Torres: To help protect against meningococcal disease, the CDC recommends routine vaccination of adolescents aged 11 through 18 years (a single dose of vaccine should be administered at age 11 or 12 years, with a booster dose at age 16 years for children who receive the first dose before age 16 years).

Momtrends: As a busy mom, can you offer some advice on how other mothers can fit swimming into their lives?

Dara Torres: I recommend that busy moms try to find a class where they can swim masters at a place that has daycare so they can bring their kids with them.

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