Meningitis is an infection of the covering or lining of the brain and spinal
cord. This disease can be caused by a viral or a bacterial infection. The
effects of viral caused meningitis are important and must be considered serious,
but in many cases the symptoms are so mild that the patient does not even see a
The more critical form of meningitis is caused by bacteria. Bacterial meningitis
invariably comes to medical attention; if ignored, this disease may lead to
brain damage, hearing loss, recurrent convulsions, or even death.
The leading cause of the bacterial-based infections is the haemophilus
influenzae type b. As most PN readers know, there is a vaccine available for HIB
and as a result of that vaccine the number of cases caused by HIB have dropped
by about 98% over the past dozen years. But there are other bacterium that can
and do cause meningitis. And remember, there are infants, children and adults
who have never obtained the HIB vaccinee — but they should.
It is extremely important that you learn to be able to recognize the symptoms of
Bacterial Meningitis. These symptoms may occur something like this:
A child has a cold or a sore throat. Soon, the youngster starts getting
irritable, running a high fever, complaining of a headache, and vomits. By now,
you should be have looked up your doctor’s phone number and made an
Then you notice that the muscles in the child’s neck and elsewhere are
stiffening. The child is becoming delirious, slips into a coma, and/or having
convulsions. Forget that doctor’s appointment, SEEK emergency medical care
Without treatment, the disease may be lethal, and the danger increases with
youth; a very young child or infant could die within hours of the time the first
signs of illness appear.