It’s World Meningitis Day: Here’s everything you need to know to keep bubba safe from this post-infection problem

5 things you need to know about meningitis

Meningitis is the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, called the meninges. It’s usually caused by an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

1. A baby with meningitis may just appear to be slow due to lack of alertness, irritable, vomiting or feeding poorly. You may not see typical meningitis symptoms – fever, headache, and neck stiffness. Doctors may look for a bulging fontanelle (soft spot on infant’s head) or abnormal reflexes, which can also be signs of meningitis.

Typical symptoms can appear quickly or over the next few days. Look out for:
·Stiff neck
·Increased sensitivity to light
·Altered metal status

2. Bacterial meningitis is the most severe and common form of meningitis, and causes 120,000 deaths globally every year.

Most cases are less severe than that and patients are usually able to get better without treatment. However, infants under one month of age – as well as people with weakened immune systems – are more likely to suffer a severe case of the illness. Other meningitis types: fungal (from breathing in fungal spores in the environment), parasitic (picked up from food, water, soil), non-infectious (caused by cancers, systemic lupus, certain drugs, head injury and brain surgery).

3. How is it transmitted?

Both viral and bacterial meningitis are contagious. Bacteria can be passed to uninfected people through the exchange of respiratory and throat infections. Viral meningitis is transmitted when you come in close contact with someone who is infected.

Learn about the treatment and protection from this scary condition …

4. Treating someone with meningitis

Bacterial meningitis is treated with antibiotics, but viral meningitis does not respond to antibiotics, most people recover completely on their own within 7-10 days. Infants may have to be hospitalised to get help recovery.

5. Protect yourself and your little one with vaccinations

Vaccinations are available for bacterial meningitis: Neisseria meningitides (meningococcus), Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus), and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib)

Those who have been in close contact with patients with meningitis will also be given antibiotics as a preventive measure.

There is no available vaccination for viral meningitis but here are some preventive measures you can take:

·Wash your hands regularly with soap and water especially after touching a patient.
·Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
·Avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging, or sharing cups or utensils with people who are sick.
·Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, not your hands.
·Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as your child’s toys and doorknobs.
·Take your child out of school if he/she is sick,

Photo: iStock

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