Contrary to news making round, meningitis is not caused by sins of fornication. What we are currently battling in Nigeria is a unique strain that is resistant to traditional/known treatment. By this I mean this strain has resisted existing medication available that has been used in the past to successfully treat meningitis.

What is Meningitis?
It is an infection of the fluid of the spinal cord & the fluid that surrounds the brain. This infection can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Knowing if meningitis is caused by either a virus or bacterium is important because the severity of the illness and treatment differ.
For example viruses, fungi, protozoa, or bacteria are known to cause meningitis. And the different forms of the disease have different mortality rates.

In all forms, the MENINGES become inflamed causing pressure on the spinal cord and brain. Patients experience symptoms such as; a headache, neck ache, and lower back aches.

We should note that viral meningitis is generally less severe and resolves without specific treatment, while bacterial meningitis can be quite severe and may lead to brain damage, hearing loss, or learning disability.

Outbreaks are uncommon but very serious. When it occurs it is advisable to take quick action. Avoiding contact with an infected person and frequent hand washing are two important ways to reduce exposure to agents of meningitis.

A person can be exposed through droplets of saliva when people sneeze, cough, kiss ( lol ) or share eating utensils. Still, it is not as contagious as the common cold, or the flu, and they are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been.

Bacterial meningitis is prevalent where people are in close proximity for long periods of time. Hostels, classrooms, military camps, prisons are some examples. I remember that the management of unity schools will force every student to take the vaccine during the high-risk period (March).

 

People in the same household or anyone with direct contact with patients oral secretion would be considered at increased risk of acquiring the infection.
Note that the organisms that cause meningitis do not live long in the environment outside the body so it is highly unlikely that anyone would acquire meningitis by contacting an inanimate environmental surface. But still, it’s advised to take prudent measure to prevent exposure. This can include special cleaning and disinfect of key environmental surfaces. (consult with a reputable disinfectant supplier for more information.)

Author – Chike Kalu is a boisterous, trained educationist with an inquisitive interest in health & wellbeing. 

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