What is Meningitis?

  Meningitis is a severe illness because it affects the coverings of the brain and spinal cord. It may be caused by diverse varieties of germs, such as the dreaded meningococcus, Hemophilus influenzae, or pneumococcus. Other bacteria can produce the disease, too. The epidemic form is generally the result of the meningococcus.

  Until the modern era of sulfa medicines and antibiotics, meningitis was one of our most fearsome diseases. Now, if treated early, it can usually be cured. Also, when epidemics threaten, we can give medicines to prevent the spread. There are no successful vaccinations against the common forms of meningitis.

  The typical attack of meningitis causes high fever, severe headache, convulsions, violent vomiting, and drowsiness or complete unconsciousness. There may be a skin rash. The neck and back muscles may become stiffened and painful. The brain, eyes, or ears may be permanently damaged.

  A doctor should be notified at once, or the child common rushed to a hospital íf your doctor cannot be reached, so that treatment can be started until he is located.

  Injections of penicillin, other antibiotics, and sulfa drugs into a vein can be used to control meningitis. In a desperately ill patient, cortisone treatment may be a lifesaver.

  Meningitis is highly contagious, so those who have caught the disease must be isolated. Parents who must be in contact with a child suffering this disease must be treated by their doctor. To prevent further spread, they should follow their doctor's orders carefully about cleaning the room and belongings of the meningitis patient.