Meningitis affects children and adults. The consequences of meningitis in children can be fatal. The cause of the infection is the bacteria “Neisseria meningitidis”. This bacterium occurs in the form of meningitis, ie inflammation of the meninges, or in the form of sepsis (blood poisoning). Sepsis is rarer but more dangerous and more often leaves lasting consequences. In children from 2 to 5 years of age, Neisseria is the most common cause of meningitis.
The presence of bacteria around us
5 to 20% of people have this bacterium on the nasal mucosa depending on the season even though the bacterium does not get sick. These are the so-called healthy carriers. They can infect another person with their meningo-coccus from the secretions of the oral cavity (or respiratory system). From the patient’s environment, as many as 65% of people have a germ present on the mucous membrane of the pharynx or nose. In order for a healthy person to become infected, close contact with a carrier or patient is required. The causative agent outside the body soon dies and is difficult to spread through the air (as a causative agent of influenza).
In contact with the bacterium, people with reduced immunity, anemic and malnourished people or people living in cramped rooms get sick. That is why the disease is frequent during the winter months when children are locked up in homes or kindergartens or schools. Incubation lasts 3 to 4 days. It can vary from 2 to 10 days. The signs of the disease are as follows: fever, very severe headache, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, stiffness of the neck muscles and pain in the spine.
Symptoms of meningitis
A specific symptom of the disease is that the child cannot touch the knees with the chin. The position of the child’s head is also interesting. The child throws his head back and literally “punches” the pillow on which he is lying with his head. The first sign of the disease in young children are spasms of the entire body structure with loss of consciousness. The fontanelle may also be bulging or taut. It is a soft or elastic rhomboid space between the unfused bones on the head. The general poor condition of a child with a tense fontanelle is the reason for urgent hospitalization and the beginning of the diagnostic process.
If, in addition to the above symptoms, minor purple bleeding is found on the child’s skin, then these are signs of sepsis and the prognosis is even more serious. In case of doubt about skin changes, a glass experiment can be performed. A glass is pressed against the skin. If the small bruises do not fade, it is meningococcal bleeding. Under the pressure of the glass all other skin rashes will fade.
Treatment of diseases
Patients should be treated in hospital and be under intensive medical supervision. The sooner treatment begins, the better the chances of a faster cure. Mortality rate in young children is up to 8%. In 10% of cases, the disease can leave permanent consequences (deafness, blindness, mental or neurological changes). After meningitis, the child may remain paralyzed, have permanent spasms centrally conditioned. From the meninges, the infection can be transmitted to the entire brain tissue. By vaccinating or preventing a healthy person, they can protect themselves from disease.