Meningitis is a medical condition in which the membranes that envelop the brain and the spinal cord become inflamed. As certain bacteria that cause meningitis could spread through oral or respiratory secretions, it’s advisable to follow certain preventive measures. This HealthHearty article lists out the precautions for preventing bacterial meningitis.
Meningitis is characterized by the inflammation of the meninges, which are the three protective membranes surrounding the brain and the spinal cord. The inflammation could be caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Bacterial meningitis is more common, and medical assistance must be immediately sought for proper diagnosis and treatment of acute meningitis that is caused by a bacterium. If left untreated, it could prove to be fatal. Children below the age of 5 years, people in the age group of 16-25 years, and above 55 years, are more susceptible to this condition. Those who have a compromised immune system are also susceptible. The characteristic symptoms include fever, headaches, neck stiffness, etc. One might also experience nausea, vomiting, confusion, increased sensitivity to light, etc. Since the causal bacterium could get transmitted to others in case of close contact or direct contact with the oral or respiratory secretions of the affected individual, it’s advisable to follow certain measures.
The patient should wear a face mask at all times. This is of paramount importance because this disease is contagious in nature. If the affected individual sneezes or coughs, the bacterium could get transmitted to anyone who inhales the respiratory secretions. Infants, older people, or people with a compromised immune system are at a greater risk of contracting infections. Thus, affected individuals should wear a mask to avoid the transmission of virus to others.
The bacterium could also get transmitted even during the incubation period, which is the phase of the development of an infection between the time the causal organism enters the body and the time the symptoms appear. Hence, it is important that the person be admitted in a hospital and be kept in a separate room. However, the patient does not need to be put into quarantine, nor does he/she require complete isolation. The personal items or belongings of the patient should be kept separately.
As the infection is caused by a bacterium, the treatment involves the administration of antibiotics. Also, doctors might consider the administration of prevention antibiotics to individuals or healthcare workers who have been in the vicinity of the affected individual for a considerable amount of time. This usually is necessary for certain nurses that have been personally tending to the patient, or for certain family members that have had close contact with the patient. The person is normally given antibiotics that specifically target bacteria such as Streptococcus pneumoniae and Neisseria meningitidis. However, these prophylactic antibiotics will only be effective till they are circulating in the body.
Administration of meningitis vaccine is often suggested. Many countries have introduced meningococcus vaccine. The administration of this vaccine has lowered the incidence of meningitis in children. Although this vaccine does not cover all the causal bacteria, it has managed to cover some of the main notorious bacterial types. Some of the vaccinations that have gained popularity include the vaccination for countering Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae bacteria.
On a concluding note, completely the recommended vaccine schedule is certainly the best preventive measure. Also, avoid contact with people who are infected. Family members of the patient and the healthcare workers should take all possible precautions as well.