Meningitis is an infection caused by parasites such as bacteria, fungi and virus. It affects the fluid in the spinal cord and the fluid that surrounds the brain. Bacterial meningitis is commonly caused by one of the following types of bacteria, Haemophilus influenza type b, Neisseria meningitidis and Streptococcus pneumoniae. The infection can be deadly if not quickly detected and treated because it affects the thyroid glands and the fluid surrounding the brain and the spinal cord. The good news is that it can be prevented by vaccines and treated with antibiotics. Here are some other important things to know about meningitis:
Spread by direct contact
The bacteria causing the disease are typically caused by direct close contact with the discharges from the nose or throat of an infected person. Contrary to popular belief, it is not spread by casual contact or by breathing the air around a person with meningitis. None of the bacteria that cause meningitis are very contagious and can only be transmitted through direct close contact.
The common symptoms of meningitis are headache, rash stiff neck and high fever. If these symptoms show up for more than two days, then get the affected patient to the hospital as quick as possible. However, other symptoms include sleepiness, vomiting, nausea, confusion and sensitivity to light. In either case, it is advisable not to practice self-medication.
The major preventive measure against meningitis is vaccination. There are several vaccines available against the bacteria that cause the disease and they are very effective and safe. Endeavor to immunize children between the ages of 12 and 18 months so that they are protected against it. Also, early detection and treatment of people who have been in close contact with patients is advised.
The bacteria causing the disease are usually found as normal microorganisms of the body. But when the host’s immune system becomes weakened or compromised, the bacteria gain the opportunity to infect the host. This is common in people that have a disease that affects their immune systems such as AIDS. Some medications are also responsible for lowering the body’s immunity. In these cases, an individual may become more susceptible to meningitis.