Meningitis : A Widespread Name For Infections

In order to combat meningitis, you want to understand it. Here are the a good number important things to know:

What does meningitis mean?

Who is affected by meningitis?

How does a person captivate meningitis?

How can a person avoid meningitis?

How is meningitis treated?

What does meningitis mean? Meningitis is a widespread name for infections that take place in the membranes (called meninges) neighboring the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis can be caused by viruses and by bacteria. One of the most severe forms of meningitis is caused by bacteria known as meningococci.

Meningococcal Disease and Meningitis

An infection with meningococcal bacteria causes a serious, potentially fatal infection called meningococcal disease1. You may have heard it referred to as bacterial meningitis. This Web site will focus on meningococcal disease, including meningitis.

Meningococcal disease can affect the meninges, causing meningitis. It can also cause a very serious condition called sepsis (also known as blood poisoning).

Each year, about 3000 people in the United States become infected with the bacteria, and as many as 1 in 10 of those people die2.

As deadly as meningococcal disease can be, most cases in the United States (up to 83 percent of cases in adolescents and young adults) could potentially be prevented by a single vaccination.3,4

Viral Meningitis

Another form of meningitis is caused by a virus. Viral meningitis is serious, but usually not life-threatening. Most patients with viral meningitis get better on their own in 7 to 10 days.

Who is affected by meningitis?

Even people who are frequently healthy can get meningitis. However, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have shown that the risk of getting meningitis increases in teens and young adults.1,3

Tell your teen about the risk of meningitis

How does a person captivate meningitis?

Although meningitis is uncommon, a person can catch it by having close personal contact with a person who is sick with the disease. There are also people who can carry the bacteria in their nose and throat but never become sick. Contact with these carriers can also cause someone to become infected with meningitis.2

Experts believe that some behaviors can put people at greater risk for getting meningitis.

Living in close quarters, such as college student residence
Being in crowded situations for prolonged periods of time
Sharing drinking glasses, water bottles, or eating utensils
Kissing
Smoking or being exposed to smoke

Activities that make people run-down and may weaken the immune system, such as staying out late and having irregular sleeping patterns

Get tips on talking to your child about health issues

How can a person avoid meningitis?

While there isn’t a way to be 100 percent protected, you can help reduce the risk of getting meningitis by avoiding the behaviors that spread it. There is also a vaccination that can help prevent it. Ask your child’s health-care provider about how to protect your child.

How is meningitis treated?

A person with meningitis needs to be seen by a health-care provider immediately. If you think that someone you know has meningitis, get that person in for emergency care right away. If doctors suspect a patient has meningitis, they will give that person strong antibiotic medicine through an intravenous (IV) tube straight into their bloodstream.

How can meningococcal disease affect a person?

Even with treatment, meningococcal disease can kill an otherwise healthy young person in 48 hours . The severe swelling in the brain and spinal cord, and sepsis (also known as blood poisoning) can lead to:

Amputation of limbs, fingers, or toes
Severe scarring
Brain damage
Hearing loss
Kidney damage
Emotional and psychological problems including anxiety, depression, difficulty working, and more

The long-lasting effects of meningococcal disease can change a person’s life forever. That’s why it’s so important to protect people from this illness.