Posted: 12:00 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012
By Gracie Bonds Staples
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ABOUT THE DISEASE
What is it?
Meningococcal disease, sometimes called bacterial meningitis, is a potentially fatal bacterial infection that may cause death or disability within hours.
What is the treatment?
Health care must be immediate and aggressive to prevent death and/or serious side effects. Once meningococcal disease is suspected or diagnosed, it is treated with heavy doses of antibiotics. Early treatment is essential to reduce the risk of death. However, because the disease can progress so quickly, early treatment does not guarantee a full recovery. Antibiotics also should be given to those in close contact with a person who is diagnosed with meningitis.
What are the symptoms?
Sudden onset of fever, headache and stiff neck.
Nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light.
Altered mental status and seizures.
After the disease has taken hold, a rash may appear.
How is it spread?
Meningococcal disease is contagious. The disease is transmitted through air droplets and direct contact with infected people (e.g., coughing, kissing).
Is it viral or bacterial?
Viral meningitis is caused by a virus and has symptoms similar to bacterial meningitis but is neither as deadly nor as debilitating. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no specific treatment available for viral meningitis at this time. Most patients recover on their own.
Bacterial meningitis is caused by one of several types and strains of bacteria residing in the throat or nasal passages. This form is extremely dangerous, fast-moving and has the most potential for being fatal. Many (but not all) forms of bacterial meningitis can be prevented by vaccination. Someone who has recovered from meningitis can still benefit from the vaccine.
Source: National Meningitis Association