Mercy Hospital & Health Services Contact Us
About Mercy
Join Our Team
set font size large set font size medium set font size small
email this page print this page
Health Article Banner
Women's Health

Mercy Women's Care at St. Anne
3404 W. Sylvania Avenue
Toledo, OH 43623

Mercy Women's Care at St. Charles
Navarre Medical Plaza
2702 Navarre Avenue
Suite 101
Oregon, OH 43616

Mercy Women's Care at St. V's
2213 Cherry Street
Toledo, OH 43608

Spotlight on Meningitis

separator Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. These membranes, or linings, are called meninges. There are two primary types of meningitis—viral and bacterial. The viral type is caused by a virus. It’s the less serious form, and it usually takes about 10 days before it resolves (goes away).

Bacterial meningitis is the most dangerous form. A bacterium called meningococcus is the most common cause of bacterial meningitis. This type of bacteria live in the back of the nose of healthy people. It’s thought that about 5 to 10 percent of the population are harboring the bacterium at any given time. It develops into meningitis when the bacteria get into the bloodstream and travel to the meninges. Researchers aren’t sure what causes the bacteria to get into the bloodstream.

Bacterial meningitis is a fast-moving illness that can cause brain damage, deafness, loss of limbs and even death. It’s fatal in about 10 percent of cases.

Vaccine protects against two strains
There are three types—called serogroups—of the meningococcal bacterium, groups A, B and C. There is currently a vaccine that protects against groups A and C. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended the shot for children ages 11 to 12, unvaccinated adolescents entering high school sand college freshmen who live in dormitories. 

What causes meningitis to spread?
Both viral and bacterial meningitis are spread through close, face-to-face contact that allows for the exchange of salivary fluid, such as coughing, sneezing and kissing. 

Who’s most likely to develop meningitis?
The most common age groups affected by meningitis include:

  • Children under 5
  • People ages 16 to 25
  • People older than 55

Bacterial meningitis tends to develops most frequently in the winter months, and viral meningitis occurs more often in the summer. Researchers do not know why this is the case.

Meningitis is a medical emergency
Symptoms of meningitis often appear suddenly and include:

  • Severe headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Difficulty being around bright lights
  • Fever, often high
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Rash anywhere on the body that doesn’t turn white when pressed

 If you have these symptoms, or you are seeing them in someone else, it’s important to get medical attention quickly. Meningitis can develop—and even kill—rapidly. Even if you’re not sure whether the symptoms are meningitis,  anyone who develops these symptoms so quickly should see a doctor right away.

How is it treated?
Treatment for bacterial meningitis is generally very aggressive, and includes strong antibiotics. Even when treatment is aggressive, complete recovery is not always guaranteed. That’s why it’s so important to get medical attention as soon as these sudden, severe symptoms begin. People who have been in close contact with the person who has meningitis should also receive antibiotics.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; National Meningitis Association.
follow us online
facebook youtube

Contact us
Home  |  Sitemap

Disclaimer & Terms of Use  |  Privacy Statement  |  Notice of Privacy Practices
Copyright ©2016 Mercy. Last modified 9/27/2010