Bacterial meningitis is one of the most lethal of bacterial illnesses in comparison to other variants of the disease. As a vector of different bacteria, infants and children are easily capable of acquiring the illness. Hence, based on the severity of the disease, the paper will focus on providing an overview of the disease, its causes, the factors that influence its proliferation among individuals, the mode of transmission, the symptoms, the form of treatment and the subsequent prognosis.
Indeed, meningitis comprises the inflammation of the organs known as the meninges. The meninges constitute the group name for a triad of membranes encompassing the spinal cord and the brain. They include the dura matter, the pia matter and the arachnoid matter (Engdahl, 2010). The executive function of this collective membrane is to guarantee the protection of the Central Nervous System. Consequently, bacterial meningitis is one of the most severe illnesses affecting individuals of all ages in the world. In America alone, nearly 4100 cases of this disease, including 500 deaths, have taken place from 2003 to 2007 (CDC, 2012). Based on such a recent statistic, it is clear that bacterial meningitis is rather lethal if not treated early enough. Accordingly, even though most individuals experiencing the effects of this ailment survive, it can lead to further stern complications such as damages within the brain, hearing loss and even learning impairments.
Causes of Bacterial Meningitis
Undeniably, the inflammation of the meninges results from infection through elements such as bacteria, viruses as well as other microorganisms. However, in relation to bacterial meningitis, the causative factors mainly comprise bacteria. Different variants of these microorganisms vary based on the age group of the infected person. For infants aged between zero and three months old, generic bacterial causes comprise Group B streptococci and bacterial that typically occupy the digestive tract (CDC, 2012). A formidable example of this is Escherichia coli. Moreover, Listeria monocytogenes are capable of infecting newborn infants during the occurrence of epidemics. For older children, common bacteria causatives constitute Streptococcus pneumoniae and Neisseria meningitides (CDC, 2012). In addition, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Neisseria meningitides cause most of cases involving bacterial meningitis among adults and children alike. Listeria monocytogenes is also responsible for causing bacterial meningitis among older adults (CDC, 2012).
Factors Influencing Affinity to Bacterial Meningitis
Certain factors are responsible for the occurrence of bacterial meningitis among both children and adults. The first factor is age. Indeed, infants face a much larger risk for attaining bacterial meningitis than individuals within other age factions. Nonetheless, every person can gain the disease irrespective of his or her age. The next factor is the setting of the community. Infectious illnesses usually spread faster in large groupings of people. In addition, college students dwelling within dormitories as well as military personnel are also at risk of bacterial meningitis. Thirdly, certain medical situations, diseases, surgical processes and medications can also increase a person’s affinity towards the respective disease. Operating together with causative pathogens is also another factor that can lead to the acquirement of bacterial meningitis. Lastly, travelers within the meningitis belt situated in Sub-Saharan Africa are also capable of gaining meningitis especially when the dry season is approaching (CDC, 2012).
Mode of Transmission
The main mode of transmission comprises germs. Accordingly, the germs that lead to this infection are contagious. Some of the bacteria can undergo conveyance via the interaction of throat and respiratory secretions in actions such as kissing. Nonetheless, most of these pathogens are not considerably contagious as diseases such as influenza and the common cold. Additionally, transmission cannot occur via casual contact such as touching or breathing air in the presence of a person infected with bacterial meningitis. However, the bacteria responsible for this disease are capable of spreading to other individuals. This typically occurs when there is prolonged or proximate contact with an infected individual within the same vicinity or via direct exposure to the person’s oral secretions. Furthermore, individuals in direct physical interaction with meningitis-infected persons are also at greater risks of receiving the disease. However, in rare instances, bacteria such as Listeria monocytogenes can cause bacterial meningitis through ingestion of contaminated food (CDC, 2012).
Signs and Symptoms
A person having bacterial meningitis may experience it first through a sudden incidence of fever, stiff neck and headaches. The individual, apart from the signs mentioned, may also face occasional nausea, heightened sensitivity towards light, vomiting and altered mental standing. The symptoms of this particular disease can materialize rapidly or in several days. Commonly, they progress within 3 to 7 days after contact (Chávez-Bueno & McCracken, 2005). Infants younger than a month are at greater risk of gaining severe signs. These include signs of fever, neck stiffness and fever followed by insufficient alertness, irritability, vomiting and slow ingestion. The infants may also exhibit abnormal reflexes or a bulging fontanelle on the child’s back, which may also be signs of meningitis. Later signs of this specific disease are very grave and comprise coma and seizures.
The most efficient way to treat bacterial infection is through antibiotics. For instance, antibiotics such as ampicillin are highly recommended for bacterial infections resulting from Listeria monocytogenes (Chávez-Bueno & McCracken, 2005). It is imperative to begin the treatment as early as possible upon diagnosis and recommendation. Proper antibiotic treatment of common variants of bacterial meningitis can decrease the risk of death from the disease considerably.
Prognosis and Conclusion
Concluding, bacterial meningitis is capable of being fatal if it goes untreated. This is because it is unable to resolve spontaneously and can thus, be lethal in contrast to other forms of meningitis. Moreover, if treated, the mortality from this particular illness relies on an individual’s age and the fundamental cause. Among newborns, 20 to 30 percent may experience death from a single occurrence of the ailment (Schut, Gans & Beek, 2008). In addition, the risk tends to be significantly lower among older children, whose rate of mortality is nearly 2 percent, but increases considerably to between 19 percent and 37 percent among adults (Schut, Gans & Beek, 2008).
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012, March 15). Bacterial Meningitis. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/meningitis/bacterial.html.
Chávez-Bueno, S., & McCracken, G. H. J. (2005). Bacterial meningitis in children. Pediatric Clinics of North America, 52(3), 795-810.
Engdahl, S. (2010). Meningitis. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press.
Schut, E. S., Gans, D. J., & Beek, V. D. (2008). Community-acquired bacterial meningitis in adults. Practical Neurology, 8(1), 8-23.
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