Meningitis

Breaking through the blood-brain barrier

The bacteria that sneak past the brain's defenses to cause deadly bacterial meningitis are clever adversaries. Brandon Kim would know. The biology graduate student at San Diego State University investigates the molecular ...

May 11, 2015
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How World War II spurred vaccine innovation

War and disease have marched arm in arm for centuries. Wars magnify the spread and severity of disease by disrupting populations. As large groups of people move across borders, they introduce and encounter ...

May 08, 2015
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One test for all infections

If you're returning from abroad with a fever, your doctor will likely test you for malaria. You'll give multiple blood samples at the lab, and if the results are inconclusive, you'll face yet another round of tests.

Apr 20, 2015
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Meningitis is inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, known collectively as the meninges. The inflammation may be caused by infection with viruses, bacteria, or other microorganisms, and less commonly by certain drugs. Meningitis can be life-threatening because of the inflammation's proximity to the brain and spinal cord; therefore the condition is classified as a medical emergency.

The most common symptoms of meningitis are headache and neck stiffness associated with fever, confusion or altered consciousness, vomiting, and an inability to tolerate light (photophobia) or loud noises (phonophobia). Sometimes, especially in small children, only nonspecific symptoms may be present, such as irritability and drowsiness. If a rash is present, it may indicate a particular cause of meningitis; for instance, meningitis caused by meningococcal bacteria may be accompanied by a characteristic rash.

A lumbar puncture may be used to diagnose or exclude meningitis. This involves inserting a needle into the spinal canal to extract a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the fluid that envelops the brain and spinal cord. The CSF is then examined in a medical laboratory. The usual treatment for meningitis is the prompt application of antibiotics and sometimes antiviral drugs. In some situations, corticosteroid drugs can also be used to prevent complications from overactive inflammation. Meningitis can lead to serious long-term consequences such as deafness, epilepsy, hydrocephalus and cognitive deficits, especially if not treated quickly. Some forms of meningitis (such as those associated with meningococci, Haemophilus influenzae type B, pneumococci or mumps virus infections) may be prevented by immunization.

This text uses material from Wikipedia licensed under CC BY-SA

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