Meningitis And The Different Types of This Disease
Introduction to Human Biology 1101-01
Prepared for: Professor Braun
January 14, 2013
Meningitis is an infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, which is called the meninges, and causes inflammation. This inflammation can be caused by a virus, bacteria, or other microorganisms, but can also be causes by certain types of drugs which is very rare. Meningitis is often a medical emergency because the inflammation is very close to the brain and spinal cord, and can severely damage the area. There are five different types of meningitis, which are bacterial, viral, fungal, parasitic, and non-infectious meningitis. All are caused by a different substance and treated with different types of medications. History
There is much debate on who was the first to discover meningitis. Reports of meningitis have dated back into the sixteenth century. Many believe that the father of western medicine, Hippocrates, was the first to discover meningitis. Hippocrates discovered the important consequences of the infection, and the clear clinical description of meningitis (Roos, Tunkel, & Scheld, 2004). Ibn Sina, or Avicenna, was the first to discover that meningitis was a disease, but many of his findings for meningitis were not much in detail and cannot be found today (Sarrafzadeh, et. al, 2011). He believed that many of his headaches were a pain from toxic drugs that caused the membranes surrounding his brain to swell. In 1768, Sir Robert Whytt discovered tuberculous meningitis, which was described as“dropsy of the brain.” Sir Robert Whytt also discovered tuberculosis, in which the connection between meningitis and tuberculosis was not discovered until the next century.
One of the first meningitis outbreaks was recorded by Gaspard Vieusseux, in 1805, in Geneva, Switzerland. He wrote about an epidemic with people having a malignant purpuric fever, which was the first clinical description of meningococcemia with meningitis (Roos, Tunkel, & Scheld, 2004). Vieusseux believed that this fever was not passed through direct contact with people, but through “bad air” (Souza & Seguro, 2008). Due to the meningitis epidemic of 1805, there were 33 deaths in the vicinity of Switzerland. One person wrote about the epidemic of meningococcemia. Dr. Samuel Woodward in 1807 described it as having pain in the muscles, chills, short duration of strength, severe pain in the head, stomach problems, watery eyes, irregular heartbeat, and death was very close to the first onset of these symptoms (Roos, Tunkel, & Scheld, 2004). The first report to ever be written was by Anton Weichelbaum, who discovered the bacterial infection underlying meningitis and described the problems underlying meningococcus. Around the same time, Heinrich Quincke provided a early way to analyze meningitis by using lumbar puncture and using cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). Using these two techniques helped associate someone with meningitis and was well recognized by the turn of the century in 1900 (Roos, Tunkel, & Scheld, 2004).
There were a few types of treatment programs in the early years of the 20th century. They first started taking large amounts of cerebral spinal fluid and had direct put of substances, i.e. enzymes, into the body. It was not until 1913 that an antimeningococcal serum is discovered to decrease the mortality rate in people with meningitis which was discovered by Simon Flexner. Even though this treatment was very toxic, it stopped the mortality rates from going up all through World War I and for many decades after. In the mid-1940s, penicillin was discovered and used for the first time to treat patients who have meningococcal meningitis. Many people believed this was the end of the meningitis scare, but in recent decades the mortality rate has not changed (Roos, Tunkel, & Scheld, 2004). Bacterial Meningitis
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