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Sep 11, 2008

Bacterial Meningitis: Spotting the Signs

Knowing the symptoms of bacterial meningitis could mean the difference between life and death.

Headache, vomiting, fever, fatigue--to most people, these symptoms might sound a lot like the flu. But in some cases, they could indicate a much more serious condition: bacterial meningitis. According to the American College Health Association, meningococcal disease, the leading cause of bacterial meningitis, strikes 1,400 to 3,000 Americans each year, many of whom are young adults, adolescents, and children.

More than a just mild infection, bacterial meningitis causes inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord and can result in brain damage, paralysis, or even death. Fortunately, early treatment can reduce the risk of complications. Follow these guidelines to spot the disease in its earliest and most treatable stages.

Bacterial Meningitis Symptoms
Because some of its symptoms are similar to those of viral infections, bacterial meningitis can be hard to diagnose. For adults, teens, and children, the first signs may come on quickly or surface a few days after the onset of a runny nose, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, fever, or other signs of an infection. In addition to those symptoms, telltale signs of bacterial meningitis include:

     lethargy (decreased consciousness);
    photophobia (eye sensitivity to light);
    stiff neck;
     skin rashes; and/or

In infants, bacterial meningitis may result in other symptoms, including:

    jaundice (a yellow skin tint);
     stiffness or rigidity in the body or neck;
     fever or lower-than-normal temperature;
    poor feeding or weak sucking;
    high-pitched crying; or
     a bulging soft spot at the top front of the skull.

Bacterial Meningitis Treatment and Prevention
The good news is that antibiotic treatment for bacterial meningitis is about 90 percent effective, and the sooner treatment can begin, the better the chances for recovery. If you suspect that you or a loved one has symptoms of meningitis, it's critical that you seek emergency medical help immediately.

In addition, there are two vaccines available to protect against meningitis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a new version of the vaccine, the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (also known as MCV-4 or Menactra), for people ages 2 to 55. An older type of vaccine, meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (Menomune) is also effective for people older than 55. However, because both vaccines tend to wear off over time, it's important to talk with your doctor about guidelines for revaccination.


MUSAorg said...

The Meningitis Foundation of America (MFA), a national organization, would like the public and media to know that information is available regarding the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of meningitis. MFA was founded by parents whose children were affected by meningitis. In addition to supporting vaccines and other means of preventing meningitis, the MFA provides information to educate the public and medical professionals so that the early diagnosis, treatment and, most important, prevention of meningitis, will save lives. Meningitis is a dangerous and sometimes fatal inflammation of the brain and/or spinal cord that can leave survivors with serious life-long physical problems such as deafness, brain damage and other disabilities, meningitis can sometimes result in loss of limbs. MFA would like to be considered as a news resource for the disease. For further information, visit the MFA website at www.musa.org.

MFA is proud to announce the new C.I.S.S. Container Identification Scratch System
When we participate in sporting events or mingle at social gatherings it is possible to lose track of our water bottles and/or beverage cans, especially those served in containers that are very similar or identical to a container from which you are drinking. This carries the risk of transmitting an illness, such as meningitis or the common cold or flu. The Container Identification Scratch System, or C.I.S.S., is a fun way to make sure you always know your drink from others. Use it at sporting events or at a family gatherings and reduce the waste from forgotten drinks. Simply scratch your number from the C.I.S.S. label and identify your drink. For more information please contact Bob Gold at Ciss.bob@gmail.com and www.musa.org

Thank you,

Ms. Jamie Callahan, General Manager
Meningitis Foundation of America
212 W 10th Street, Suite B-330
Indianapolis, IN 46202
(800) 668-1129

September 11, 2008 at 10:54 PM