Infectologists detail meningitis treatments and guide vaccination to reduce cases of the disease, which can even lead to death
Fabiana Justus, daughter of Roberto Justuswas hospitalized last Thursday, 29, after being diagnosed viral meningitis during a trip to Miami, USA. Fever and malaise were symptoms that Fabiana had been experiencing for a few days now. But it was when they set foot on American soil that they got worse.
“The first day I was confined to bed, the second I felt terrible. So I decided to come to the hospital,” she said.
According to infectious disease specialist Rodrigo Contrera do Rio, of the Emílio Ribas hospital (SP), the symptoms of daughter of Roberto Justus are common for diagnosis. But the disease requires attention and care. In delicate situations, negligence in the treatment of meningitis can kill.
What is Viral Meningitis
The disease is characterized by inflammation of the meninges, a membrane that covers the brain. When this membrane is affected, a series of symptoms are triggered, such as eg headache, stiff neck, constant fever and, in some cases, headache or respiratory symptoms.
“Many times, when the patient goes to the emergency room, he doesn’t even imagine he has meningitis. The symptoms are very nonspecific, “says the infectious specialist.
The causes of meningitis they are numerous: bacteria, fungi, infectious agents or some other pre-existing and inadequately treated infection, such as herpes.
“Herpetic meningitis, among other things, is one of the most serious there is”, reiterates Marcelo Otsuka, specialist in infectious diseases and vice president of the Department of Infectious Diseases of the Society of Pediatrics of São Paulo.
Viral and bacterial meningitis and sequelae
According to Otsuka, there are several types of meningitis, but the most common are viral and bacterial meningitis. What differentiates one from the other are the cause, the degree of lethality and the treatments.
For example, the viral meningitis it is considered milder and does not require many medications. However, just like the bacterial meningitisit can also leave sequelae and even lead to death.
For this reason, the treatment for meningitis it is initiated by the doctor even before it is known which, in fact, affects the patient.
“If left untreated, the meningitis it can cause convulsions, neurological sequelae and even behavioral changes, so-called encephalitis. Sure, it’s more common in cases of bacterial meningitis, but both are dangerous, ”adds Rodrigo Contrera of Rio.
In case of viral meningitisusually, the person arrives at the hospital barn, with general symptoms. Without knowing he has the disease, his improvement is rapid and does not always require medication. In other cases, such as eg bacterial meningitis, the doctor defines the approach based on the patient himself, with antibiotics, steroids and even penicillin. All of this takes into account whether the patient has autoimmune diseases or is undergoing cancer treatment.
For the exact diagnosis, the patient undergoes a puncture to collect the liquor, liquid that bathes the meninges. The material is sent to the laboratory, where the exact type of meningitis.
Normally, the liqueur is transparent. But when it turns yellowish or cloudy, it indicates that something is wrong.
how to get meningitis
According to infectious disease specialist Marcelo Otsuka, the transmission of meningitis it changes according to the type of disease. If you are tuberculous, for example, it happens with a cough; if it is herpetic, from the kiss, and so on. The disease can be transmitted in a number of ways, including through air or touch.
“That’s why we provide prophylactic treatment to anyone who has had contact with a person diagnosed with meningitis,” he explains.
To avoid contracting meningitis, it is recommended to do so vaccination against meningococcus And pneumococcusin addition to good hygiene habits.
“Contamination often occurs when a person uses the bathroom, does not wash their hands, and soon after puts their hand in their mouth,” adds Otsuka.
Experts recommend seeking appropriate medical attention at the first atypical symptom or constant fever.
* With editing by Estela Marques.