Meningococcal Meningitis: Causes and Diagnosis

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Meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial form of meningitis, a serious infection of the meninges that affects the brain membrane. This disease causes brain damage and can be fatal if it isn’t treated properly. The bacteria Neisseria meningitidis has the ability and is known to cause large outbreaks of the disease. Meningococcal disease is possibly fatal and should be viewed as a medical emergency. Admission to a hospital or contact with a doctor is necessary and isolation of the infected patient would not be necessary. Antibiotic treatment is needed and should be given as soon as possible. The bacteria are transmitted from person-to-person through droplets of respiratory or throat seepage from infected. Close and prolonged contact – such as kissing, sneezing or coughing on someone, or living within close contact (such as sharing eating or drinking utensils) with an infected person (a carrier) – aids the spread of the disease. The average growth period is four days, but can range between two and 10 days. Someone infected with Meningococcal meningitis may experience a stiff neck, high fever, sensitivity to light, confusion, headaches and or vomiting. Although treatment is recommended highly and the disease can be diagnosed early even when adequate treatment is started, 5% to 10% of patients die, typically around 24 to 48 hours after the start of symptoms. Bacterial meningitis may result in brain damage, hearing loss or a learning disability in 10% to 20% of survivors. A more severe form of Meningitis that is less common but even more severe (often fatal) form of meningococcal disease is meningococcal septicaemia, which is characterized by a haemorrhagic rash and rapid circulatory collapse. Initial diagnosis of meningococcal meningitis can be made by clinical examination followed by a lumbar puncture showing a purulent spinal fluid. The bacteria can sometimes be seen in microscopic examinations of the spinal fluid. The diagnosis is supported or confirmed by...
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