|Life Sciences - Life Science Article|
|Written by Margret Chandira|
|Wednesday, 20 May 2009|
A COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW ON BACTERIAL MENINGITIS
Bacterial meningitis is found worldwide. The bacteria often live harmlessly in a person's mouth and throat. In rare instances, however, they can break through the body's immune defenses and travel to the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. There they begin to multiply quickly. Soon, the thin membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord (meninges) becomes swollen and inflamed, leading to the classic symptoms of meningitis. The bacteria are spread by direct close contact with the discharges from the nose or throat of an infected person.
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Fortunately, none of the bacteria that cause meningitis are very contagious, and they are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been. In persons over age 2, common symptoms are high fever, headache, and stiff neck. These symptoms can develop over several hours, or they may take 1 to 2 days. Other symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, confusion, and sleepiness. In advanced disease, bruises develop under the skin and spread quickly.In newborns and infants, the typical symptoms of fever, headache, and neck stiffness may be hard to detect. Other signs in babies might be inactivity, irritability, vomiting, and poor feeding.As the disease progresses, patients of any age can have seizures. Anyone can get bacterial meningitis, but it is most common in infants and children. People who have had close or prolonged contact with a patient with meningitis caused by Neisseria meningitides or Hib can also be at increased risk. This includes people in the same household or day-care center, or anyone with direct contact with discharges from a meningitis patient's mouth or nose. The diagnosis is usually made by growing bacteria from a sample of spinal fluid. The spinal fluid is obtained by a spinal tap. A doctor inserts a needle into the lower back and removes some fluid from the spinal canal. Identification of the type of bacteria responsible for the meningitis is important for the selection of correct antibiotic treatment. Advanced bacterial meningitis can lead to brain damage, coma, and death. Survivors can suffer long-term complications, including hearing loss, mental retardation, paralysis, and seizures Bacterial meningitis can be treated with a number of effective antibiotics. It is important, however, that treatment be started early.
Meningitis is an infection of the fluid in the spinal cord and the fluid that surrounds the brain. Meningitis is usually caused by an infection with a virus or a bacterium. Knowing whether meningitis is caused by a virus or a bacterium is important because of differences in the seriousness of the illness and the treatment needed. Bacterial meningitis is much more serious. It can cause severe disease that can result in brain damage and even death.
Prevention depends on use of vaccines, rapid diagnosis, and prompt treatment of close personal contacts. Bacterial meningitis is most commonly caused by one of three types of bacteria: Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), Neisseria meningitides, and Streptococcus pneumoniae.Before the 1990s, Hib was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis, but new vaccines being given to children as part of their routine immunizations have reduced the occurrence of serious Hib disease. It is important to know which type of bacteria is causing the bacterial meningitis because antibiotics can prevent some types from spreading and infecting other people.Bacterial meningitis may initially appear aseptic. Even though true aseptic meningitis cannot be caused by pyogenic bacteria, broad-spectrum antibiotic cover should be started as the consequences of misdiagnosing a bacterial meningitis are dire, and relatively easily avoided. For non-pyogenic bacteria, local sensitivities should be taken into account, but generally broad-spectrum is best. Some bacteria are normally sensitive to certain drugs - for example, rifampicin is good for Brucella. Powerful intravenous antibiotics are needed to treat bacterial meningitis. Steroids are often used to reduce swelling of the brain Vaccines are available to prevent the three main types of bacterial meningitis, but cannot prevent all cases. Many vaccines do not work well in infants, and in some cases, disease occurs in persons where predictedrisk of disease is low and vaccine was not recommended. There are highly effective vaccines providing long-term protection against Hib and seven major strains of pneumococcal disease in children, which are recommended beginning at age 2 months. Other vaccines are available for pneumococcal disease and meningococcal disease targeting high-risk groups of older children, adolescents or adults. Bacterial meningitis is a life-threatening illness that results from bacterial infection of the meninges. Beyond the neonatal period, the 3 most common organisms that cause acute bacterial meningitis are Streptococcus pneumoniae, Neisseria meningitidis, and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). Since the routine use of Hib, conjugate pneumococcal, and conjugate meningococcal vaccines in the United States, the incidence of meningitis has dramatically decreased.
The whole 11 pages article is available for download at Downloads section of Farmavita.NetRead also at Pharmaceutical Licensing Network
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