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Local woman campaigns for meningitis

SARANAC LAKE Saranac Lake resident Debbie Jerdo recently attended the National Meningitis Angels (Angels) Patient Advocacy Conference in Kingwood, Texas.

Jerdo, who became a part of the Angels group shortly after her 18 year old daughter, Lindsay died from bacterial meningitis on Dec 24, 2001, joined with other Angels and families from around the country to learn more about not only bacterial meningitis but other vaccine preventable diseases; how we can prevent them and make immunizations more accessible to all, included in CDC/ACIP recommendations. The group believes no one should die from a vaccine preventable disease in America.

The group's founder and executive director, Frankie Milley stated, "One has to only visit an old cemetery to understand the value of vaccines."

Angels just produced a seven minute video to educate pre teens and adolescents on the importance of healthy living and immunizations.

The group has been invited to join the Center for Disease Control on a new campaign to reach parents of 11 and 12 year olds and health care providers.

"When Lindsay became sick, we thought she had the flu. I had no idea of what meningitis was or the symptoms of it. I had only heard the word. I certainly did not know it could kill within hours, Jerdo stated.

Becoming proactive and educating people on this disease has also been healing.

"I would never want another parent or someone else to lose a child or a loved one to this silent killer," Jerdo said.

Sometimes people are fortunate enough to survive, but many end up with severe disabilities and limbs amputated. Since July 22, 2003 college bound students in New York are required to get the vaccine (which can prevent strain C of bacterial meningitis) or sign a waiver.

Meningitis is not exclusive to any one age as was so effident at the conference, although teens and young adults are the high risk group.

For more information, visit www.meningitis-angels.org

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