Bacterial Meningitis

Article published on 23rd May 2008

Unlike viral meningitis (which tends to be less severe) bacterial meningitis occurs most commonly in people who live in close quarters to each other, making university students, barracked soldiers and those in prison most susceptible.

The requirement for sustained proximity in order to catch the illness is because, unlike a virus that can spread easily, bacterial infections require prolonged contact before they can settle into the system. The sort of contact required would come from sharing a drinking glass or straw, or from using an infected person's cutlery without cleaning them sufficiently well first.

The bacteria infect the normally sterile fluid surrounding the brain and spinal chord. The infection proves fatal in 10 - 15 per cent of cases, and of those who survive, another 10 - 15 per cent may well suffer permanent hearing loss or may even lose a limb in severe cases.

As with other strains of meningitis the symptoms of bacterial meningitis include headaches, fever and a stiff neck. Medical treatment (usually antibiotics) is required as soon as the illness has been diagnosed.

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