Did you know that meningitis has robbed and it is still robbing many people of their lives in Nigeria?
Sometimes in 1996, the worst occurred when 109,580 cases and 11,717 deaths were recorded. In 2003, there were 4,130 cases and 401 deaths; furthermore, in 2008, 9,086 cases and 562 deaths, and as at Friday, 31st March 2017, 2,524 people were infected, while 328 deaths were recorded in 90 Local Government Areas in 16 States of the Federation, which include:FCT, Nassarawa, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Osun, Cross Rivers, Lagos, Niger, Zamfara, Jigawa, Yobe, Taraba and Gombe.
Considering the number of casualties and deaths, what then is this life sucking disease , Why does it trouble so much and kill so fast? You may be pondering.
Here is the answer!
Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges. The meninges are the three membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. It can occur when fluid surrounding the meninges becomes infected.
Bacterial meningitis:This is contagious and caused by infection from certain bacteria. It is fatal if left untreated. Between 5 – 40 percent of children and 20 – 50 percent of adults are recorded to have died with this condition. This is true even with proper treatment.
The most common types of bacteria are:
- Streptococcus pneumoniae, which is typically found in the respiratory tract, sinuses, and nasal cavity and can cause “pneumococcal meningitis”.
- Neisseria meningitis, which is spread through saliva and other respiratory fluids and causes “meningococcal meningitis”.
- Haemophilus influenza, which can cause not only meningitis but infection of the blood, inflammation of the windpipe, cellulitis, and infectious arthritis.
- Listeria monocytogenes, which is a foodborne bacteria. Also, pregnant women have an increased risk of listeriosis. This infection can spread to the unborn child.
Common causes of bacterial meningitis vary by age group:
- Newborns: Group B Streptococcus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli.
- Babies and children: Streptococcus pneumoniae, Neisseria meningitis, Haemophilusinfluenzae type b (Hib), group B Streptococcus.
- Teens and young adults:Neisseria meningitis, Streptococcus pneumonia.
- Older adults: Streptococcus pneumoniae, Neisseria meningitis, Haemophilusinfluenzae type b (Hib), group B Streptococcus, Listeria monocytogenes.
Viral meningitis: This is the most common type. Viruses in the Enterovirus category cause 85 percent of cases and about 10 to 15 million infections per year, but only a small percentage of people who get infected will develop it. It typically goes away without treatment.
- Coxsackievirus A;
- Coxsackievirus B;
- Chronic meningitis
- Fungal meningitis
- Non-infectious meningitis: such as chemical reactions, drug allergies, some types of cancer and inflammatory diseases such as sarcoidosis.
What Are the Symptoms ?
Viral meningitis in infants may cause:
- Decreased appetite;
In adults, viral meningitis may cause:
- Stiff neck;
- Sensitivity to bright light (photophobia);
- Decreased appetite.
Bacterial meningitis symptoms develop suddenly.
They may include:
- Altered mental status (confusion);
- Sensitivity to light (photophobia);
- Stiff neck.
Symptoms of bacterial meningitis can appear quickly or over several days. Typically they develop within 3 to 7 days after exposure. Later symptoms can be very serious (e.g., seizures, coma).
What Are the Complications
These complications are typically associated with meningitis:
- Hearing loss;
- Brain damage;
- A subdural effusion, or a buildup of fluid between the brain and the skull.
How does it spread?
Generally, the germs that cause bacterial meningitis spread from one person to another. Certain germs, such as Listeria monocytogenes, can spread through food.
Here are some of the most common examples of how people spread each type of bacteria to each other:
- Mothers can pass group B Streptococcus and Escherichia coli to their babies during labor and birth;
- People spread Hib and Streptococcus pneumoniae by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others, who breathe in the bacteria;
- People spread Neisseria meningitidis by sharing respiratory or throat secretions (saliva or spit). This typically occurs during close (coughing or kissing) or lengthy (living in the same household) contact;
- People can get Escherichia coli by eating food prepared by people who did not wash their hands well after using the toilet.
People usually get sick from Escherichia coli and Listeria monocytogenesby eating contaminated food.
It is also important to know that people can carry these bacteria in or on their bodies without being sick. These people are “carriers.” Most carriers never become sick, but can still spread the bacteria to others. People spread germs by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others, who breathe in the bacteria. People spread Neisseria meningitis by sharing respiratory or throat secretions (saliva or spit). This typically occurs during close (coughing or kissing) or lengthy (living in the same household) contact.
THE WAY FORWARD
Never consider yourself experienced or knowledgeable enough to engage in SELF-MEDICATION. Always seek medical attention regardless of how little your illness may be – the least mistake can cause the greatest consequence.
Engage the services of a primary or standby medical team/personnel; someone who takes your health with utmost concerns, follows up on your constant check-ups and someone you can call on at anytime and anywhere.
If you experience the above symptoms or any related symptoms, immediate medical attention is necessary. Bacterial meningitis can be deadly. There is no way to know if you have bacterial or viral meningitis just by judging how you feel. Your doctor will need to perform tests to determine which type you have.
- Avoid overcrowding;
- Sleep in well ventilated places;
- Avoid close and prolonged contact;
Strict observance of hand hygiene and sneezing into Elbow joint/sleeves, reduction of hand shaking, kissing, sharing utensils or medical interventions such as mouth resuscitation.