June 5, 2018 Source: Internal - Usman K

What is Meningitis? What are its symptoms? How is it transmitted?

Meningitis is the inflammation or infection of the Meninges. What are Meninges? you may ask, it is the three-layered covering of the spinal cord and brain, think of it like the sheath of a sword. Evidently, if the sheath of your nerves is infected, serious repercussions ensue. It is characterized by severe headaches, vomiting, and pain and stiffness in the neck. Most symptoms correlate directly with the age of the infected, for example newborns may exhibit fever and hypothermia. The elderly may show lethargy, confusion, or disorientation. Generally, the germs that cause bacterial meningitis spread from one person to another by sharing saliva or spit.

How many types of Meningitis are there?

There are five forms of meningitis - Bacterial, viral, parasitic, fungal, and non-infectious - particularly classified by the cause of the disease. Going over some of the more familiar types, Aseptic meningitis is meningitis attributable to causes other than bacteria (viruses, mycobacteria, etc.). Tuberculous meningitis is distinct from the forms of meningitis because it lasts longer, has a higher mortality rate, and, if left untreated, may result in brain deformity. Lastly, Cryptococcal meningitis is a fungal infection caused by a fungus found in soil worldwide. Patients with risk factors for this form of meningitis include those with AIDS, diabetes and leukemia.

Who can contract Meningitis?

Strains like Tuberculous meningitis mostly strikes children, whereas Bacterial meningitis is more common in the elderly. Those with weakened immune systems are more likely to be harmed, along with those who have received organ transplants. Rarely, some bacteria may be brought into the area by neurological damage or surgical invasion. Everyone can contract meningitis, that's why the government of Ontario has made immunization for meningitis mandatory for highschoolers, since 2009. This was done in consideration of most highschoolers beginning sexual development, more saliva and spit is shared, which increases meningitis susceptibility.

What can you do about it?

Meningitis should be treated immediately with antibiotics specialized for the causative bacteria. If you're uncertain of your health, coming into the clinic to have a blood test could reveal an elevated white blood cell count in the cerebrospinal fluid, which would indicate you have bacterial meningitis. The most basic way to prevent meningitis is active immunization.