HOW MENINGITIS EFFECT THE HUMAN
Meningitis is the inflammation/swelling of the meninges, a three-layered protective membrane that along with cerebrospinal fluid enclose and protect the brain and spinal cord.
Every year over 1 million people are affected with meningitis. Meningitis can be life-threatening and if not treated early may result in encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain), coma or even death.
WHO ARE AT RISK?
People with the weak immune system are at high risk of developing meningitis such as the patient with HIV positive, diabetes or cancer and people who are a splenic (absence of normal spleen function) or have a history of the basilar skull fracture.
Another important factor is age. Meningitis can affect anyone but is more common in infants, children under 5, teenagers and older people over 65.
Alcoholism or smoker
People in close contact with an infected person
Babies who get the disease are at particularly high risk of getting dangerously ill because it can be tricky to diagnose and symptoms can escalate quickly.
Meningitis is most commonly caused by viruses and bacteria that penetrate the blood-brain barrier and enter the CNS either through the bloodstream or through direct contact with microorganism carriers. Though these carriers can be completely healthy, they still carry microbes in their throat and nose.
Viral meningitis, also referred to as aseptic acute meningitis, is less severe. Patient with viral meningitis often recover without treatment and do not result in permanent disabilities. Whereas bacterial meningitis, also known as acute pyogenic meningitis, is a life-threatening disease that can lead to brain damage, death or other complications if not treated promptly. 77% of cases of bacterial meningitis are caused by Streptococcus pneumonia, Neisseria meningitides and Homophiles influenza. In 1996 in sub-Saharan Africa, Neisseria meningitides causes meningitis in quarter million people out of which 25000 died (biggest history recorded).
Fungal infections rarely cause meningitis, usually occur in people with weakened the immune system. Non-infectious agents such as some chemicals/drugs may also cause irritation to the meninges causing meningitis.
Despite the range of causes, either infectious or non-infectious, symptoms of meningitis are generally the same. Patients usually develop symptoms within a few hours or 2-3 days. Sudden fever, severe headache (different from the usual ones), vomiting and stiff neck are the leading symptoms of meningitis. Other symptoms include
Unfading skin rash
Photophobia (pain or discomfort associated with bright light)
Brzezinski’s neck sign (Inability to unbend legs)
Kerning’s sign (inability to extend the leg at 90°)
The rigidity of occipital muscles
Loss of appetite
Inability to concentration or Delirium
In some cases, as patients are presented to the medical community, and if proper treatment is not started then within few hours patient will die.
Prompt treatment and diagnosis of this disease result in full recovery of a patient. However, in some cases, survivors are left with temporary or permanent disabilities or neurological problems that can alter their lives. It includes:
Lack of concentration
Difficulty in learning
Scarring or skin damage or loss of limbs due to blood poisoning (septicemia)
Vaccines are being designed to target the organism involved in meningitis and thus provide protection against the disease.