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Quick reference medical handouts used by Pediatric offices


How is meningitis spread?


Meningococcal disease was first described as early as 1805, when an outbreak spread through Geneva, Switzerland. But it wasn't until 1887 that the bacterium responsible for meningococcal meningitis was identified. The germs that cause bacterial meningitis are very common and live naturally in the back of the nose and throat. At any given time, 10% of the population are carriers of the disease but never actually become sick. In fact, most cases of meningitis are acquired through exposure to children or adults who are symptom free. 

Meningitis can be spread via nose and throat secretions (eg, coughing, sneezing, and kissing); however, meningitis is not considered to be a highly contagious disease; casual contact or breathing in the air where a person with meningitis has been normally would not expose someone to meningitis because the bacterium responsible for the diease cannot live outside the body for very long.

Acute meningitis usually develops from an invasion of bacterial and/or viral germs  from the surfaces lining the nose, throat, sinus cavities, and middle ear space into the bloodstream. It can also result from head injuries, penetrating wounds, or neurologic surgeries.

In infants, most cases of meningitis are caused by group B streptococcus and E.coli bacterium.  Mother-to-infant transmission and aspiration of intestinal and genital tract secretions during labor and delivery are common ways an infant can become sick.  After infancy, S pneumoniae is the leading bacterial cause of meningitis.

N meningitidis is another common bacterium  causing bacterial meningitis. H influenzae type b meningitis, once the most prevalent form of meningitis in children, is now more rare in the developed world because of successful immunization practices (H influenzae type b conjugate vaccine) in the past 2 decades. In fact, incorporation of this vaccine into the routine immunization schedule resulted in a 94% decline in the number of US cases of meningitis caused by H influenzae.

People living in unsanitary and/or crowded conditions and those with immunocompromised status are at particularly high risk for meningitis. Incidence is at a peak in the winter and early spring. 


source: adapted from an article that appeared in Medscape Pediatricis. posted on kidsgrowth.com 07/01/04
recognizing anti-Israel media bias

St. Petersburg Times anti-Israel bias

 

 

As a reminder, this information should not be relied on as medical advice and is not intended to replace the advice of your child’s pediatrician. Please read our full disclaimer.

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