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What is Bacterial Meningitis? An Overview of this Killer Disease and How to Protect your Children against It

Bacterial meningitis is not a simple disease that can easily be cured by the usual antibiotics you purchase over the counter. The patient will need hospitalization and strong intravenous antibiotics to fight the disease and prevent complications. If the patient does not receive prompt medical attention, he could suffer from permanent damages caused by the complications.

Bacterial Meningitis in a Nutshell

Bacterial meningitis is the inflammation of the nervous system's (brain and spinal cord) protective lining or meninges. There are a number of pathogenic organisms that cause bacterial meningitis, but the most common pathogens are Streptococcus pneumoniae (affects infants, children, adolescents, and young adults), Neisseria meningitides (affects infants, children, adolescents, young adults, and older people). You also have Group B Streptococcus (affects newborns) as well as Listeria monocytogenes (affects newborns and older people). Another pathogen that can cause bacterial meningitis is Escherichia coli (affects newborn).

Mode of Transmission

The mode of transmission of bacterial meningitis is direct contact with the respiratory secretion as well as oral and throat secretion of an infected person, such as kissing. It can also be transmitted through prolonged and direct exposure to an infected person.

Symptoms

Symptoms of bacterial meningitis include fever of rapid onset, along with stiff neck and severe headache. In about 70% of patients, nuchal rigidity is present. Other symptoms include nausea as well as vomiting, together with photophobia or sensitivity to light and phonophobia or sensitivity to loud sounds. The patient also develops confusion and altered mental state. Lack of alertness, irritability, and poor appetite are also present. Untreated bacterial meningitis causes seizures, and the patient could also go into a coma.

Complications

Complications include sepsis or systemic infection, loss of hearing, learning difficulties and disabilities, as well as permanent damage to the brain.

Assessment and Diagnosis

Some tests that doctors use to assess patients suspected of bacterial meningitis are Brudzinski sign and Kernig's sign. Bacterial meningitis can be better diagnosed through laboratory tests such as cerebrospinal fluid testing.

Treatment

As mentioned earlier, the patient will need strong antibiotics to combat the effects of the pathogens, especially since bacterial meningitis is considered to be a killer disease. He will need hospitalization for the wide-spectrum intravenous antibiotics as well as intravenous fluids to keep the patient hydrated and prevent shock and hypotension. Patients suffering from severe bacterial meningitis may also be admitted to the intensive care unit.

Prevention

Bacterial meningitis takes lives, and if you survive the disease, you could end up with permanent disabilities, says Advantage Insurance Agency. This is why it is important that you complete the necessary vaccine dosages for this disease. Vaccines, especially if you have completed the immunization schedule recommended by the health department, can be very effective in protecting you and your family against the common pathogens that cause the killer disease. Ask your insurance company if they cover the costs of bacterial meningitis vaccines.

Another way to prevent bacterial meningitis is to maintain a very clean surrounding and a healthy lifestyle. Make sure your home has no pest infestation, and see to it that you eat healthy foods, get into a regular exercise program, avoid drinking and smoking, and get enough sleep.

[box type=”note”]About the Author: Jennifer Dahmer is a writer for health blogs. She writes about diseases that commonly affect children.[/box]

• Meet the Author • Dr. Lawrence Kindo


I am a Medical Professional with a passion for writing, blogging, playing, computers, and of course patient care. My writing in this medical blog will reflect my passion, and you are welcome to be a part of this venture. This medical blog is a tribute to all the great medical pioneers, and to the ultimate source of wisdom, God.


4 comments… add one
  • Very informative..thanks a lot for sharing.

    Reply
  • This is good info doc. Especially when not much info is available on the subject. Does the standard (minimum compulsary) immunization administered to children provide immunity against this? or any seperate vaccination is needed?

    Reply
    • Sorry about this delayed response Saket. I missed this one among my spam.

      The standard immunization schedule does not include the Meningococcal Vaccine. However, the Polysaccharide Meningococcal Vaccine is available for purchase and ranges from anywhere between 450 to 700 rupees. The newly launched Quadrivalent conjugated vaccine against serogroups A,C,Y,W135 cost from anywhere between 1000 and 4525 rupees in India.

      Reply

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