For a long time, meningitis has been a problem in many parts of the world. It is considered to be an emergency medical condition that is a great threat to life, since it attacks areas close to the human brain. It was first detected in Geneva in 1805 and later spread through Europe, the United States, to Africa in the 1840’s. Research has shown that it inflates the membranes of the brain and those of the spinal cord. This paper seeks to explain various symptoms associated with meningitis, its causes, diagnosis, and prevention. Also, it highlights various research studies that have been carried out by different agencies on meningitis and their findings.
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The symptoms associated with meningitis vary a lot depending on the age of the person attacked. In adults, it is characterized by a severe headache and stiffness in the neck section that is associated with almost 90% of the bacterial meningitis, fever, unconsciousness or a low level of tolerance to light and sound. Children may sometimes not show specific symptoms but exhibit general signs that can also be associated with other diseases. The symptoms include constant irritation, drowsiness or appearance of rashes caused by specific bacteria like the meningococcal bacteria.
Meningitis can be caused by bacteria, virus, fungi, parasites, and non-infectious conditions. The types of bacteria that cause meningitis differ depending on the person attacked. Babies are commonly affected by group B bacteria, while adults are affected by group A bacteria with the elderly being at a higher risk of infection. Enteriviruses, mumps causing viruses, and HIV are some of the viruses that cause meningitis. Substances that contain fungi can also cause meningitis, and this is common when an individual excessively uses immunosuppressant or loses their immunity due to old age. When there is a white blood cell called eosinopil in blood, then it is assumed that the causative agent must be parasitic in nature. Also, the non-infectious conditions that cause meningitis include the use of certain antibiotic drugs such as intravenous immunoglobulin, a general spread of cancer to the meninges, disorders in the ligaments, and inflammation of the walls of blood vessels.
Diagnosis can be done on people suspected to have meningitis and takes different forms depending on the availability equipment to be used. The most notable methods are blood tests and imaging which must be done in a well-equipped laboratory. While carrying out blood tests, the specialist must be keen enough to detect the presence of marks in the blood vessels indicating that they are inflated. This can be done through a comprehensive blood count or an analysis of the blood cultures. Imaging is aided by the use of very powerful equipment. It must be of high resolution in order to magnify the blood components for the purpose of studying their image formations. All these must be carried out in a standard laboratory in the presence of specialists who have a wide range of experience in these areas.
Several research studies have been conducted to better understand meningitis and come up with possible solutions to this life-threatening condition. Campaigns have also been carried out on an extensive scale with real-life experiences used to educate people on the effects of meningitis and the possible ways that may help them prevent themselves from being attacked. The campaigns are meant to encourage people to undertake vaccination as a means of eradicating meningitis.
Australia acts as a better case study. Charlotte Cleverley-Bisman, an Australian citizen, developed acute meningococcal meningitis as a child. The situation got out of hand and she had to be amputated. Though she survived the ordeal, her case has been widely used by organizations in Australia as a campaign tool to encourage people to go for vaccination. Several research studies have also been carried out by institutions like Meningococcal Reference Unit in Wales, Health Protective Agency in England, and the Medline Plus Organization.
In the mid 1990’s, Meningococcal Reference Unit carried out an extensive laboratory test on meningitis that was based on confirmation tests through non-culture. The study was done on behalf of the World Health Organization and relied heavily on the use of Men C vaccine type. It found out that meningitis was prevalent in the regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, Pakistan, and India. Though they managed to eradicate group A meningitis, group B type remained unaffected by the vaccine and, thus, is still prevalent. The World Health Organization, therefore, standardized Men C type of vaccine to be used in eradication of meningitis. Studies by the Medline Plus Organization found out that meningitis mainly attacked people whose immune system was weaker.
Several research findings have shown that there exist preventive measures of eradicating meningitis. The measures can range from short-term to long-term ones. The most notable long-term measure employed in preventing meningitis is vaccination where type B vaccines are administered to children to kill its pathogens. Also, antibiotics can be administered as a means of reducing the possibility of contracting meningitis in the short run. The only challenge is that it does not eliminate the possibility of contacting it in the future. Change in behavior can also be used as a means of eliminating meningitis. Bacterial and viral meningitis are contagious and spread through contacts, coughs, and fecal contamination. The risks involved can be reduced by people acting mannerly and avoiding the acts that aid its transmission.
It can, therefore, be concluded that meningitis has been a bigger challenge and life-threatening disease to a lot of people. Several researches have helped in its partial elimination with preventive measures being advanced to reduce its prevalence. Moreover, campaigns and vaccination should be carried out extensively to educate people and mitigate the spread of meningitis.