Meningitis – A Real Risk
Life is fragile… I am reminded as I care for a baby whose life is threatened by bacterial meningitis. Infection of the spinal fluid and tissues around the brain (meninges) can progress rapidly. As pressure builds in the brain, bacterial meningitis can take a healthy child to the brink of death in a matter of 1 day.
Children with severe headaches and inconsolable infants need prompt evaluation. Meningitis is diagnosed with a spinal tap. Viral meningitis is treated with supportive care. Bacterial meningitis has a high death rate and requires IV antibiotics for several weeks. For children who survive, complications can include mental retardation, hearing loss, kidney failure, limb amputations and cerebral palsy.
What can you do to prevent meningitis for your child? Most cases of bacterial meningitis can be prevented by vaccinating. We have excellent vaccines available in the USA for infants and children to prevent meningitis due to pneumococcus (PCV), haemophilus (Hib), and meningococcus (MCV). Vaccines are not scary, but meningitis is! Protect your child… vaccinate.