What is Meningitis?

Meningitis is a medical condition in which the meninges, or tissues around the brain and spinal cord, become inflamed.  The condition is often caused by an infection and occurs most often in children, teens and older adults.  However, people with weakened immune systems are also susceptible to meningitis.  Because it is caused by a viral or bacterial infection, meningitis is contagious and can be passed from one person to another through close contact, coughing or sneezing.  If left untreated, meningitis can cause brain damage and death.

There are two forms of meningitis.  The first type is viral meningitis, which is the most common form of the disease.  It is caused by enteroviruses and is usually transmitted by food, water and contaminated objects.  Sometimes caused by the mumps, viral meningitis is most common in babies and young children.  The second type of the disease is bacterial meningitis.  Though less common, bacterial meningitis is very serious and needs to be treated immediately.  Streptococcus pneumonia or Neisseria minigitidis often cause bacterial meningitis, which can be transmitted through saliva or mucous.  Group B strep may also cause bacterial meningitis in infants.

Because the symptoms of bacterial meningitis and viral meningitis are extremely similar, it is important for a person who experiences such symptoms to see a doctor who can determine the cause of the infection and its treatment.  Teens with meningitis often experience a stiff neck that often hurts when they try to touch their chins to their chests.  Teens may also experience fever, headache, and vomiting.  Babies with meningitis often refuse to eat, may develop a rash, and will often cry when held.  Young children with the illness may develop flu-like symptoms, while older adults may just complain about a headache and fever.

Doctors diagnose meningitis by performing a lumbar puncture, or spinal tap.  A spinal tap is a procedure in which doctors take a sample of fluid surrounding the spine.  The fluid is then tested for viruses or bacteria that cause meningitis.  If a person has bacterial meningitis, he or she will probably be admitted into the hospital where antibiotics will be administered intravenously.  They may also receive a medication to reduce brain swelling caused by meningitis.  If a person has viral meningitis, he or she is usually told to drink plenty of fluids and to take medication for pain and fever.  Viral meningitis cannot be treated by antibiotics and often goes away in two weeks.

How Can Meningitis Be Prevented?

The best way to prevent meningitis in children is to make sure that they receive all standard immunizations.  Such immunizations include shots for the measles, chickenpox, pneumococcal infection and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) disease.  People can also receive the meningo coccal vaccine, which prevents bacterial meningitis.

How Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC Can Help If Your Child Was Diagnosed with Meningitis

Left untreated, meningitis can cause serious health complications including brain damage, hearing loss and death.  In some cases, medical providers may fail to diagnose the condition or may not provide adequate treatment.  If your child was diagnosed with meningitis, Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC may be able to help.  We will attempt to determine the cause of your child’s infection.  If your child’s meningitis could have been prevented, we will recover compensation from those responsible.  Contact the Birth Injury Lawyers at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC.

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