Meningitis is an infection which causes inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and the spinal cord. Infections caused by the viruses get resolved without involving much treatment; while infections caused by bacteria can be quite serious and can lead to brain damage or death.
Acute bacterial meningitis is a medical emergency and this requires immediate hospitalization and treatment. Bacterial strains responsible for meningitis include Streptococcus pneumonia, Haemophilus influenza and Neisseria meningitides. It is reported that approximately 20,000 cases of bacterial meningitis occur in United States per annum.
The symptoms of meningitis include fever and chills, severe headache, nausea and vomiting, stiff neck, sensitivity to light and confusion. Additional symptoms such as rapid breathing and decreased consciousness also can be observed.
When the bacteria have found their way in the body and are not stopped by the body immune system, can proceed deeper through the blood stream and enter the protective membranes covering the brain and the spinal cord. This area is known as meninges. As the bacteria are observed by the immune cells of the brain with in the central nervous system, this causes them to release large amounts of hormone like mediators called cytokines. This causes other immune cells and tissues to develop an immune response. This response develops as inflammation due to the entry of large numbers of white blood cells. The walls of the blood vessels also become inflated and this reduces blood supply to the brain and the blood cells do not get the required oxygen supply and leading to cell death.
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