Meningitis in El Salvador

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Cultural and Disease Paper - Meningitis

University of Phoenix
HCS 245 Introduction to Health and Diseases
MU11BHA06
November 02, 2011

Cultural and Disease Paper - Meningitis
It was mid-February 1968 in a city in the central region of El Salvador, two men sitting on the street curve outside the doctor’s office. One of them was the doctor himself; the other man was a poor steel worker whom two years earlier lost his second child to bronchitis. The doctor said to my father the choices you have are to cry for a few months or years after the death of your first born or to cry for an entire life. Because your son can grows up deft, mute, or mentally retarded as a consequences of the experimental surgery the surgeons want to perform on him child. That was the conversation the doctor and my father had some 44 years ago, after the doctors in San Salvador diagnosed me with meningitis at the age of three years and five months. The doctors in San Salvador were pressing my father to consent to an experimental brain surgery, rather than the antibiotics treatment. My father opted for the antibiotics treatment instead. Three months inpatient and two years follow-up was length of my battle with the disease.

Meningitis is a disease caused by the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord known as the meninges. The inflammation is usually caused by an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis is also referred to as spinal meningitis.

Of the many causes that can lead to Meningitis, usually is bacteria or viruses, but meningitis also can be caused by physical injury, cancer, or certain drugs. The severity of illness and the treatment for meningitis differ, depending on the cause. Thus it is important to know the specific cause of meningitis. Meningitis is manifested in four types, Bacterial meningitis, Viral Meningitis, Fungal Meningitis, and Noninfectious Meningitis. Bacterial meningitis is usually more severe than viral, fungal, or parasitic meningitis. Although it can be very serious, bacterial meningitis is treated with antibiotics that can prevent severe illness and reduce the spread of infection from person to person (CDC, 2010).

Bacterial meningitis caused by Neisseria meningitidis bacteria (meningococcal disease) can be fatal and should always be viewed as a medical emergency. About 10% of infected people die from the disease. In nonfatal cases, those affected experience long-term disabilities, such as brain damage, loss of limb, or deafness. Preventing the disease through the use of meningococcal vaccine is important.

Immunization is the most effective way of protection against certain types of meningitis. The risk of meningitis increases by not following the recommended vaccine schedule. Other factors that can increase risk of meningitis are:

Age - Viral meningitis occurs mostly in children younger than age 5.  Prior to the development of effective vaccines, bacterial meningitis was most commonly diagnosed in young children, since bacterial meningitis is more commonly diagnosed among pre-teens and young adults.

Community setting - Infectious diseases tend to spread quickly wherever larger groups of people gather together. Thus some of the most commonly affected are college students living in dormitories, military personnel berthing in a common area and children in childcare facilities.

Pregnancy – During pregnancy women are at an increased risk of catching listeriosis. The bacteria that cause listeriosis, can also cause meningitis, and the unborn baby of a pregnant woman with listeriosis is also at risk.

Working with animals - Dairy farmers, ranchers, and other people who work with domestic animals are at an increased risk of contracting listeriosis.
Weakened immune system - Certain...
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