About Meningitis

What is Meningitis?

Meningitis is a disease caused by the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord known as the meninges. The inflammation is usually caused by an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis may develop due to several causes, usually bacteria or viruses, but meningitis can also be caused by physical injury, cancer or certain drugs. The severity of illness and the treatment for meningitis differ depending on the cause. Thus, it is important to know the specific cause of meningitis.

What are the Types of Meningitis?

There are five types of meningitis, and each one can be caused by something different but can have usually similar symptoms:

  • Bacterial
  • Viral
  • Parasitic
  • Fungal
  • Non-Infectious

Symptoms of all types of meningitis:

  • High fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Altered mental status
  • Sleepiness or trouble waking up
  • Lack of appetite

What Vaccines are Available to Prevent Meningitis?

There are two types of meningococcal vaccines available in the United States:

  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccines (Menactra® and Menveo®)
  • Serogroup B meningococcal vaccines (Bexsero® and Trumenba®)

All 11- to 12-year-olds should be vaccinated with a meningococcal conjugate vaccine. A booster dose is recommended at age 16. Teens and young adults (16- through 23-year-olds) also may be vaccinated with a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine. In certain situations, other children and adults could be recommended to get meningococcal vaccines.

What are the Possible Side Effects of Meningococcal Vaccines?

Most people who get a meningococcal vaccine do not have any serious problems with it. With any medicine, including vaccines, there is a chance of side effects. These are usually mild and go away on their own within a few days, but serious reactions are also possible.

Mild Problems

Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccines

Mild problems following meningococcal conjugate vaccination can include:

  • Reactions where the shot was given
    • Redness
    • Pain
  • Fever

If these problems occur, they usually last for 1 or 2 days.

Serogroup B Meningococcal Vaccines

Mild problems following a serogroup B meningococcal vaccination can include:

  • Reactions where the shot was given
    • Soreness
    • Redness
    • Swelling
  • Feeling tired
  • Headache
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Fever or chills
  • Nausea or diarrhea

If these problems occur, they can last 3 to 7 days.

How Else Can I Prevent Meningitis?

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and often
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces
  • Avoid kissing or sharing cups or eating utensils with sick people
  • Make sure you are vaccinated
  • Avoid bites from mosquitoes and other insects
  • Control mice and rats

Reference: https://www.cdc.gov/meningitis/viral.html

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