Fungal Meningitis Outbreak in USA

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What is Meningitis?

The swelling and inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord (meninges) is known as Meningitis. This results from an infection of the cerebrospinal fluid that is present inside the skull around the brain. It is a morbid infection with a high mortality rate if not diagnosed and treated promptly.

What causes Meningitis?

There are several kinds of meningitis, among which viral meningitis is the most common However, bacterial infections resulting due to influenza bacillus, Neisseria meningitis and strains of pneumococci, streptococci, or staphylococci can lead to severe meningitis that can be life threatening. Another type of rarely found meningitis is of fungal origin caused by Cryptococcus and Histoplasma. It can be acquired by the inhalation of yeast cells. It is mostly seen in immune compromised patients such as those receiving medications for the treatment of diseases like cancer or organ grafting. (Roy Benaroch 2012). Parasitic meningitis and Noninfectious meningitis is often seen in hospitalized, critically ill people suffering from cancer, SLE or as a result of brain surgery or head injury.
Signs and symptoms

Meningitis may start as a simple, innocent looking fever, but other signs and symptoms also develop quickly. These include chills, photo sensitivity, neck stiffness, delirium, blurred vision, nausea leading to projectile vomiting and severe headache. Complications like bulging of fontanelles in children, agitation, altered consciousness, Opisthotonos (unusual posture with neck arched backwards) and rapid breathing may occur.

Fungal Meningitis Outbreak in USA

Recently the health officials are looking into cases that look like an outbreak of fungal meningitis in several states of US. According to the Center of Disease Control in Atlanta, at least 200 cases (19 deaths) have been confirmed in fifteen American states with highest incidence in Tennessee, Michigan and Virginia. All of the reported cases supposedly received steroid (Methylprednesolone acetate) injections for joint pain. (Julie Steenhuysen, 2012) Authorities claim that perhaps the steroid injection vials have been previously exposed to fungus called Exserohylum that grows in grass and rotting wood. (Julie Steenhuysen, 2012). The distributor, New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts, has been instructed to halt all operation and to recall all of their dispatched products for inspection.

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References
Understanding Meningitis — the Basics Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on March 05, 2012. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/brain/understanding-meningitis-basics

Meningitis
Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/meningitis/

Rare Fungal Meningitis Outbreak in United States
Retrieved from http://learningenglish.voanews.com/content/rare-fungal-meningitis-outbreak-in-united-states/1528603.html

Fungal Meningitis: Early Treatment Is Vital Because Disease Quickly Destroys Brain, Case Study Shows. By Julie Steenhuysen Source: Reuters Posted: 10/18/2012 8:08 am EDT Updated: 10/18/2012 11:11 pm EDT
Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/18/fungal-meningitis-early-treatment_n_1978593.html

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