Friday, October 12, 2012


It has been a busy week with hubby being away on business trips.  I was trying to get to bed before midnight this week so did not get a chance to blog.  However, I've been wanting to talk about meningitis since it has been in the news lately.

I'm sure you have all heard about the crazy outbreak of fungal meningitis that has been linked to tainted steroid injections.  You can read about it all over the internet (most recent story I found is here).  Main things:

  • cases linked to tainted steroid injections manufactured by NECC in Massachusetts
  • most patients involved received this steroid injection in their spine for back pain
  • so far 170 cases with 14 deaths
  • very slow growing so more cases will probably arise
  • this is not contagious and only those who received the steroid injection are at risk
So what is meningitis?
Meningitis is inflammation of the membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord

What type of meningitis are there?
  • Viral
    • caused by viruses like enteroviruses or herpes simplex virus
    • this is the most common type
    • symptoms are far less serious and often it mimics the common flu
  • Bacterial
    • caused by bacteria like Neisseria meningitidis and Streptococcus pneumonia
    • rare but can be life threatening if not treated
    • we have vaccines to prevent some forms so talk to your doctor and get vaccinated
  • Fungal
    • caused by fungus like Cryptococcus and Histoplasma
    • even more rare and more challenging to treat
    • usually patients with certain medical conditions are higher risk of getting this
  • Parasitic
    • caused by parasites in contaminated food, water, or soil
    • less common in developed countries
  • Noninfectious
    • caused by things like cancer, lupus, head injury, drugs, or surgery
What are the symptoms of meningitis?  
(here are a few common symptoms...)
  • fever / chills
  • severe headache
  • stiff neck
  • nausea / vomiting
  • confusion
  • seizures
  • difficulty waking up
  • sensitivity to light
How is it treated?
It really depends on the type of meningitis.  Antibiotics are given for bacterial meningitis and antifungals for fungal meningitis.  Most cases of viral meningitis are treated with fluids and supportive care.  Sometimes, hospitalization is required if the symptoms are severe.  Call your doctor if you have any of the symptoms above.  Since meningitis can be serious leading to even death, it is a good idea to vaccinate for the types that can be prevented.