What is meningitis?
Meningitis is the inflammation of the meninges (Mening = Meninges itis = inflammation). It is a severe acute infectious disease caused by several micro-organisms, including viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungi.
Meningitis mainly affects children younger than 5, young adults and the elderly.
There are two main types of meningitis VIRAL and BACTERIAL
What are the signs and symptoms?
The signs and symptoms in viral and bacterial meningitis are usually the same. The symptoms often begin within 2-3 days of coming into contact with the organism. The initial symptoms usually seen are:
- High temperature
- Common Cold, sore throat may also occur
As time passes more specific signs and symptoms are seen in addition to the above:
- Severe headaches
- Photophobia – bright lights are uncomfortable
- Nuchal rigidity – neck stiffness
- A third of people with bacterial meningitis may experience one or more fits.
There are important signs and symptoms in babies and young children:
- High pitched cry
- Breathing problems
- Cuddling increases their irritability rather than soothing it
- Fontanelles become tense or swollen due to increased pressure inside the head
- Neck and back may arch or bend backwards
55-70% of people with meningococcal meningitis have a typical rash:
- that appears as small red/purple spots between 1–2 mm in diameter OR as large purple/black bruises
- is usually found on or around the armpits, groin, ankles and underwear and sock lines
- the do not blanche, or go pale, when pressed upon
|Image8. Menigococcal rash on legs of patient with meningitis