Ed De La Garza
Crystal J. Doucette
Know your diseases
Three thousand cases of meningococcal disease
occur each year in the United States. Ten to 13 percent of those infected
die despite early diagnosis and treatment. Ten percent of those who survive
suffer debilitating effects of the disease.
These numbers may appear substantial, but
they're statistically irrelevant in a city the size of Houston, unless
you're one of the statistically meaningless infected.
Spinal meningitis is usually caused by
a bacterial or viral infection. Meningitis is an infection of the spinal
cord and the fluid that surrounds the brain. The bacteria spread when an
infected person coughs or sneezes, bringing organisms into the air. Bacterial
meningitis can result in brain damage, hearing loss, or learning disability
and in some cases, death.
It's important to know the types of bacterial
meningitis because antibodies can prevent the spread of the disease in
Several antibiotics are effective against
bacterial meningitis if the treatment is started early. However, antibiotics
are not effective against all the strains of meningitis.
Early diagnosis and treatment is necessary
to find the proper antibiotic.
Meningitis caused by haemophilus influenza
Serotype B can be prevented with a vaccine, which is part of normal
childhood immunizations. According to the Center for Disease Control, the
vaccines against Hib are very safe and effective.
A vaccine to prevent meningitis against
s. pneumoniae can also prevent other forms of infection caused by
s. pneumoniae. This vaccine is not effective for children under
two years old but it is recommended for persons 65 and older.
UH students should be aware that the CDC
identified college students living in dormitories as a group slightly higher
at risk than the general public in a 1998 investigation.
High fever, headache and a stiff neck are
common symptoms of meningitis in anyone over two.
Anyone suffering from these symptoms should
see a physician promptly for a check-up.
Meningitis cases should be reported to
state or local health departments to allow follow-ups and recognize outbreaks.
It's better to be safe than sorry when
your health is concerned. A vaccination against meningitis could save your