The meninges are membranes that enclose the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, the most common cause of which is infection by viruses or bacteria that enter the meninges through the bloodstream from other parts of the body. This area of the body has no "host defenses" to fight off invading bacteria, which allows unchecked duplication of the infecting organism.
Bacterial meningitis causes inflammation and swelling that can result in significant consequences including hearing loss, brain damage, and even death.
Bacteria that cause meningitis are carried in the nose and throat (nasopharynx). People can be "infected" with the bacteria for days, weeks or months with no symptoms. At any given time it is estimated that 10% of the population are "carriers". Aside from epidemics, at least 1.2 million cases of bacterial meningitis are estimated to occur every year with 135,000 of these cases being fatal.
Treatment of bacterial meningitis requires antibiotics as well as medications such as steroids to reduce swelling in the brain. Close contacts of persons with meningitis are usually prescribed antibiotics to prevent further development and spread of the disease.
The Medifocus Guide on Bacterial Meningitis provides answers to the following important questions and medical issues:
What are the most common symptoms of bacterial meningitis?
Are there any recognized risk factors for developing bacterial meningitis?
What kinds of medical tests are used to establish the diagnosis of bacterial meningitis?
What is the current standard of care for the treatment of bacterial meningitis?
What treatment options are available for the management of bacterial meningitis?
Are there any promising new developments or potential breakthroughs in treatment?
Who are the most notable medical authorities who specialize in bacterial meningitis?
Where are the leading hospitals and centers of research for bacterial meningitis?
What are the most important questions to ask my doctor about bacterial meningitis?
What Your Doctor Reads:
This MediFocus Guide contains an extensive listing of citations and abstracts of recent journal articles that have been published about this condition in trustworthy medical journals. This is the same type of information that is available to physicians and other health care professionals. A partial selection of journal articles that are abstracted in this MediFocus Guide includes:
Serious infections of the central nervous system: encephalitis, meningitis, and brain abscess. Adolescent Medicine. 2000
The management of neurosurgical patients with postoperative bacterial or aseptic meningitis or external ventricular drain-associated ventriculitis. Infection in Neurosurgery Working Party of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. British Journal of Neurosurgery. 2000
Antibacterial agents in infections of the central nervous system. Infectious Disease Clinics of North America. 2000
Designing meningitis vaccines. Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of London. 2000
Imaging of rickettsial, spirochetal, and parasitic infections. Neuroimaging Clinics of North America. 2000
Meningitis due to Neisseria subflava: case report and review. Clinical Infectious Diseases. 2000
Tuberculous meningitis. 2000
Update on meningococcal disease with emphasis on pathogenesis and clinical management. 2000
Streptococcus bovis meningitis in an infant. Journal of Clinical Microbiology. 2000
Group A streptococcal meningitis in the antibiotic era. 1999
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