Meningitis is difficult to recognize, understand
Essentially, there are two major divisions of
meningitis -- viral (caused by a virus) and bacterial (caused by
one of several types and strains of bacteria residing in the throat
or nasal passages). The bacterial form of meningitis is extremely
dangerous, fast-moving and has the most potential for being fatal. For
many survivors, the long-term effects can be debilitating, possibly
including multiple amputations, hearing loss and kidney damage. Many
(but not all) forms of bacterial meningitis can be prevented by
vaccination. Viral meningitis has similar symptoms to bacterial
meningitis, but is neither as deadly nor as debilitating for the
most part. According to the CDC, there is no specific treatment available for viral meningitis at this time. Most patients recover on their own.
Major Bacterial Types
There are many forms and types of bacteria which
cause meningitis, but NMA focuses particularly on meningococcal
disease because it is deadly, preventable and very few people,
including doctors, are fully informed about methods of prevention
against the disease.
The three main kinds of bacterial meningitis
in the U.S. are:
Meningococcal disease (Neisseria meningitidis)
These are big words for one of the most devastating
types of meningitis today. The disease is expressed as
either meningococcal meningitis, an inflammation of the membranes
surrounding the brain and spinal cord, or meningococcemia, the
presence of bacteria in the blood. Meningococcal disease
is the most common cause of bacterial meningitis for U.S. toddlers,
adolescents and young adults.
The five main serogroups (or types) of bacteria
in the U.S. are A, B, C, Y and W-135, which cause more than 95
percent of meningococcal disease worldwide. The bacteria
that cause meningococcal disease reside in the throats and
nasal passages of approximately 15 percent of the general population. Researchers
are unsure why the bacteria attacks some people while most of
the population are not affected.
Click here for the latest information on Meningococcal disease (Neisseria meningitidis)
Pneumococcal meningitis (Streptococcus
This variety primarily attacks younger children. In
2000, the U.S. approved a new conjugate vaccine for young children. The
vaccine is deemed to be very effective and safe. There
is some misunderstanding about pneumococcal meningitis. Even
though the CDC has published a recommended vaccination schedule,
parents need to understand this disease can also kill older children.
here for the latest information on pneumococcal meningitis
Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type
Hib disease primarily attacks the very young,
but it has nearly been eradicated in the U.S. since the introduction
of infant vaccination programs against Hib in the mid-1980s.
here for the latest information on Hib disease and prevention