Meningitis is a serious disease that may be caused by any of a number of different vectors. The main issues that cause the disease in the U.S. are bacteria and viruses. The danger that it represents makes meningitis one of the many diseases that we require childhood vaccinations against. In most cases, this protects children, the most vulnerable segment of the population from developing the disease. It does not protect against all forms and vectors for the disease though.
These days, the most common social site for the outbreak of meningitis is in groups of young adults living together for the first time. The result has been that the group most in danger from meningitis is also a group that is mostly unqualified to recognize the illness and seek treatment. If you have a child entering college, you need to be aware of this disease and the potential dangers that it represents.
The disease is caused by an inflammation of the protective membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. The proximity of these membranes to such important features of the nervous system makes the disease serious in all its forms. A diagnosis of meningitis is considered to be a medical emergency. The inflammation itself can be caused by bacterial or viral infection as well as by microorganisms and drugs that affect the area. Symptoms of the disease include:
* Neck stiffness
* Altered Consciousness
The symptoms of the disease can be non specific and easy to dismiss in their early stages, but it is imperative for affected individuals to get treatment immediately. If left untreated, bacterial meningitis will result in death. With treatment, the disease has a mortality rate of 19 to 37% in adults. Complications that can arise from the disease include deafness and cognitive impairment.
If you are worried about your college-aged child contracting meningitis, the best thing that you can do for him or her is to educate them regarding the disease. Most modern outbreaks of the disease in the U.S. occur in places like dorms and barracks so make sure that your child knows how to recognize the disease as well as what to do in the event of disease. Do not encourage your child to ignore or make light of their health issues. Though meningitis starts with a headache, the disease progresses dangerously fast.
If an outbreak occurs on campus, your child will be notified, but make sure that he or she is reminded to practice good hygiene and care for his or her health. Suggest that your child make sure that they wash their hands regularly and properly sterilize any dishes that they keep in their room before use. If your child is properly educated about the disease, then he or she is more likely to be prepared to face in either themselves or their dorm mates. Still, in all probability, it will not be an issue.