Bacterial Meningitis affects an average of 1,500 Americans every year, in many cases leading to tragic fatalities or life-long complications. With a few simple precautions, preventing the onset of Bacterial Meningitis is achievable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly encourages vaccination, stating that all pre-teens need to receive the first dosage of Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4) between the ages of 11 and 12 years old. The CDC also recommends a booster shot vaccination for Meningococcal conjugate (MCV4) be administered between the ages of 16-18. There are also vaccinations available for the three bacteria types that cause meningitis, which the CDC also strongly encourages: Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus), Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus), and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). The CDC ensures that vaccination is the most effective way to prevent Meningitis from affecting you or those you care about.
Recognizing the signs and symptoms of Bacterial Meningitis is an essential part of preventing long term effects caused by the illness. Meningitis may be recognizable if there is a sudden onset of fever, headache and stiff neck. Other symptoms associated include:
- Increased sensitivity to light (photophobia)
- Altered mental status (confusion)
The symptoms of bacterial meningitis can appear quickly or over several days. Typically they develop within 3-7 days after exposure. Later symptoms of Bacterial Meningitis are very severe and can include seizures or comas.
In the unfortunate instance that you or someone you know contracts meningitis the earlier that the illness is recognized and treated, the more likely a positive outcome. The CDC website reveals that appropriate antibiotic treatment of the most common types of bacterial meningitis should reduce the risk of dying from meningitis to below 15%, which is why it is so important that treatment begin as soon as possible. Additionally, anyone who has been exposed to meningitis or thinks that they may have it should see a doctor immediately.