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Meningitis: Be Alert To Signs Of This Infectious Disease That Creeps Up On You Silently

Infants might have a fontanelle (soft spot on their forehead) as a symptom of the disease

The disease strikes rapidly and can kill within hours. While Meningitis or the swelling of the membrane is not contagious but some of the causes of it are

Written by Kashish Sharma |Updated : October 6, 2022 4:37 PM IST

Meningitis is the sixth largest infectious disease killer in the world. It is also the second biggest infectious cause of death among children under five years of age. The disease strikes rapidly and can kill within hours. On this World Meningitis day, it might be a good idea to understand the serious health consequences associated with the illness and what preventive measures can be taken to protect ourselves from the deadly condition.

The disease can be caused by many different pathogens including bacteria, viruses and fungi. Among the kinds, bacterial meningitis is the most occurring form. The disease is usually fatal and counts as a medical emergency. The treatment of the disease depends upon the nature of the pathogen causing it. As per WHO, over 2.5 million cases of meningitis are reported every year. The disease can affect anyone at any stage.

Inflammation of brain membranes

Meningitis is a disease caused by inflammation of the meninges. These membranes surround the brain and spinal cord. This inflammation is usually caused by an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and the spinal cord. Infectious diseases caused by viruses and bacteria, and non-infectious conditions like cancer and head injury can cause the condition.

Symptoms of Meningitis

The disease is life-changing. It devastates families and communities every day. While Meningitis or the swelling of the membrane is not contagious but some of the causes of it are. The pathogens that caused the condition can be transmitted from one person to another. The following are symptoms associated with the condition-

  1. Fever
  2. Neck pain
  3. Avoiding bright light
  4. Vomiting
  5. Joint and limb pain
  6. Seizures
  7. Rash
  8. Confused
  9. Cold hands and feet
  10. Severe headache
  11. Infants might have a fontanelle (soft spot on their forehead)
  12. Droopy and Unresponsive infants

It has kinds

In treatment of Meningitis, it is of prime importance to understand what pathogen might have caused it. Vaccines can be given against meningococcus and pneumococcus bacteria and Haemophilus influenza, all common causes of the disease. The following are some forms of the disease-

  1. Meningitis caused by bacteria can be deadly and needs immediate medical attention. It kills one in 10 people who contract it. It is known to cause lifelong disability in 1 in 5 people who contract it. Vaccines are available to help protect against some kinds of it.
  2. Meningitis caused by virus is serious but a little less severe than bacterial form of the disease. People with a healthy immune system usually get better on their own.
  3. Fungal Meningitis is rare but people can contract it if they happen to inhale fungal spores from the environment. People with conditions like cancer, HIV and diabetes are more likely to suffer from this form of the disease.
  4. Sometimes the cause of meningitis is non-infectious like cancer and head injury.

WHO's Roadmap to defeat meningitis

WHO has framed a roadmap to defeat meningitis by 2030. It aims to improve the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and aftercare of the disease. The following are some calls of action prescribed by the global health watchdog-

  1. Eliminating the bacterial meningitis epidemic
  2. Reducing cases of vaccine-preventable bacterial meningitis by 50 per cent and deaths by 70 per cent.
  3. Reduce disability and improve quality of life after meningitis.

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