The Causes of Meningitis

A medical condition that affects the body's most important organ: the brain. See how could this disease could affect you and what are the agents that could infect your organism.

Meningitis is the infection of the membranes that are surrounding the brain, called the meninges; brain abscesses are defined and there are localised lesions within the brain.

Viruses are the microorganisms that cause the most cases of meningitis and these may only be treated symptomatically. The complete recovery from the virus is the priority of the affected organism, because the brain is the most important organ that coordonates its life functions. In contrast, the bacterial meningitis is rare, but a life-threatening condition. Fungi and protozoa can cause meningitis, but these infections are very rare. In each case of infection, the symptoms of meningitis are similar. The main signs that are given by the patients are the severe headache and fever, neck stiffness, due to the inflammation of the spinal cord and also the photophobia, the incapability of toleration of bright light. Depending on the causative agent, the accurate diagnosis of meningitis is essential, the outlook varying from complete recovery to death. Meningitis is also a complication associated with mumps infection. The treatment of virus meningitis is aimed at relieving the symptoms of the disease, rather than trying to cure the occured infection.

Meningitis could be induced by complication of enteric fever, enteroviruses like coxsackieviruses and echoviruses. Natural warm water springs form the ideal environment for the amoeba Naelgleria fowleri, which is a protoroan that causes a rare form of meningitis. The amoeba is inhaled and burrows through to the brain from inside the nose and once it is in the brain, rapidly the fatal meningitis ensues. Salmonella cholerae-suis is another salmonella type that causes meningitis. Listeria monocytogenes can cause meningitis in newborn babies and people who are immunocompromised. The bacterias that cause meningitis are protected by a capsule, that defend the microbes from our methods of defence and they contain toxins that damage the tissues directly, aiding the colonisation on the surface of a new host. Meningitis can also occure as a complication of genital herpes simplex infections, along encephalitis.

Pneumococcal meningitis may also be followed by an attack of pneumonia or a direct spread from an ear infection to the meninges. Streptococcal meningitis is associated with a rate of mortality of about 20-30%, even when appropiat treatment is existent. A rate of 15-20% of patients who survive suffer permanent damage to the neurological system. The treatment for pneumococcal meningitis is penicilin, being first used in the 1940's against this disease and being extracted from mold.

Bacteria and viruses are not the only organisms that have the ability of spreading meningitis. Strongyloides stercoralis it a worm that lives in tropical and subtropical areas; the adult worms live in the intestines, their eggs are expelled in the feces and once the eggs hatch, the new worms can enter a person's organism through their skin. From there, they migrate to the lungs, are swallowed by the throat and develop as adults inside the intestines. These worms can survive in the soil for several generations without parasiting before they find a host. The rat lungworm is common only in Southeast Asia and the Pacific islands. Because the eggs are eliminated into the environment through rat feces and develop in an intermediate host like snails, crabs or shrimps, humans can get the worm from undercooked seafood.

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