Meningitis is a bacterial infection which affects the ‘meninges’ which are the protective membranes of brain and spinal cord. The causative agent is Neisseria meningitidis, a bacterium which is also known as meningococcus.
The inflammation of the meninges results in swollen and irritated membranes. This inflammation may even lead up to brain and spinal cord tissue. The disease severely affects the human body and is life threatening in nature. Menigococcus meningitis affects the children and adults both. Though, children are more severely affected than the adults.
Meningococcal meningitis is spread primarily through saliva. It does not spread via droplet infection. But a prolonged exposure to the source of infection may result in its transmission.
The patient quickly develops the symptoms and may arrive with complains of high fever, chills, neck rigidity, severe headache, nausea and vomiting. Some patients may even demonstrate altered mental status or seizures. Kerning’s sign tests positive in meningococcal meningitis. The patient may even show purpura or petechiae on skin surface. The symptoms are more severe and clear in children. Depressed fontanelles, poor feeding and rapid breathing may also be evident in children.Prevention Of Meningitis
Prompt treatment should be started with antibiotics in suspected cases of meningitis, even before the laboratory reports arrive. Any delay in treatment may result in life threatening situation.
The patient needs to be hospitalised and treatment with 3rd generation cephalosporin/ benzyl penicillin/ Chloramphenicol is started. Administration of IV fluids, oxygen, and management of raised intracranial pressure are done.
The disease may prove fatal despite the extensive vaccination and antibiotic coverage available. It quickly spread out as an epidemic and affects millions of lives.Navtej Kohli MD