How do we prevent meningitis?

Meningitis is an inflammation , or swelling, of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.

Common bacteria or viruses that can cause meningitis can spread through coughing, sneezing, kissing, or sharing eating utensils, a toothbrush or a cigarette. Careful hand-washing helps prevent the spread of germs.
However, injuries, cancer, certain drugs, and other types of infections also can cause meningitis.

Symptoms of meningitis, septicaemia and meningococcal disease include:
a high temperature, though occasionally, people have no symptoms at first.

Other Symptoms of meningitis may develop suddenly and include:

  • being sick
  • a headache
  • a rash that does not fade when a glass is rolled over it , though a rash will not always develop.
  • a stiff neck
  • a dislike of bright lights
  • drowsiness or unresponsiveness
  • seizures (fits)

You should get medical advice as soon as possible if you're concerned that you or your child could have meningitis.
Trust your instincts and do not wait until a rash develops.

People with suspected meningitis will usually have tests in hospital to confirm the diagnosis and check whether the condition is the result of a viral or bacterial infection. Vaccinations offer some protection against certain causes of viral meningitis.

Bacterial meningitis usually needs to be treated in hospital for at least a week.

Treatments include:

  • antibiotics given directly into a vein
  • fluids given directly into a vein
  • oxygen through a face mask

Viral meningitis will usually get better on its own and rarely causes any long-term problems.

Most people with bacterial meningitis who are treated quickly will also make a full recovery, although some are left with serious long-term problems.

These can include:

  • hearing loss or vision loss, which may be partial or total
  • problems with memory and concentration
  • recurrent seizures (epilepsy)
  • co-ordination, movement and balance problems

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