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Memorial Gifts

Memorial Gifts is a meaningful way to honor a family member or friend who lost their battle with meningitis.   By honoring family or friends with a donation to MFA, you will know that their memory can be shared by many.

Give At Work

Matching gift programs are a great way to get your employer involved with the work of MFA. Many employers will match your personal donation dollar for dollar, double or triple a donation’s value, allowing you to increase your donation to MFA.  Check with your company for more information on matching gift programs. Employer matching gifts may also be available to you if you are the spouse of an employee, a retired employee or the spouse/widow/widower of a retiree.  If you have questions about your company’s matching gift program, please contact your Human Resources office.

Planned Giving

You can support MFA  in a variety of ways, including through your estate. Your contributions it will support MFA in continuing its mission of ending meningitis. Your support  makes it possible for us to fund critical initiatives in fostering educational, advocacy, immunization and research for the early diagnosis and eventual eradication of meningitis. When you plan a gift to MFA in your long-term estate or financial plans, you will help ensure we will be here to carry out our mission for many years to come.

There are many charitable planned giving options available to you. For example, you can make a planned gift to MFA by naming MFA as a beneficiary of your last will and testament, life insurance policy or retirement plan. You can also name MFA  as a beneficiary of a charitable trust. Your attorney or financial advisor can advise you of the various types of charitable trusts and assist you in establishing a trust that is tailored to your personal needs.  Some planned giving strategies may have a greater tax benefit  than others. Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor on which strategy would work best for you.

For examples of specific language that you may use to name MFA as a beneficiary of your will, trust, life insurance policy, retirement assets, or other contractual gift, please email us at customerservice@musa.org

Please find some general information that may be beneficial to you in finalizing your estate plan below:

Legal Name:

Meningitis Foundation of America, Inc.

Incorporation Details:

501(c)(3) organization, classified as a public charity, exempt from federal income tax
Arizona non-profit corporation

Mailing Address:

Meningitis Foundation of America, Inc.
P.O. Box 1818
El Mirage, AZ 85335

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Ways to Give

At MFA, your gift touches lives and serves as a key investment in the flight to end the spread of meningitis. Every donation funds awareness, education, prevention, immunization and recovery services and support from school workshops to healing retreats for those who’s lives have been affected by meningitis. Help us provide the services and deliver these support programs to communities across America.

Donate by clicking the button below:

About Meningitis Foundation of America

Founded in 1997, the Meningitis Foundation of America (MFA) is the first national non-profit in the United States of America dedicated to the education, vaccination and eradication of meningitis. The Meningitis Foundation of America is registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing information, support and resources to individuals, families, healthcare professionals and the public at large about meningitis diagnosis, prevention and vaccinations.

MFA is an active member of the Confederation of Meningitis Organisations (CoMO)

and a partner of

Caring Bridge.

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History

The Meningitis Foundation of America was established after David Spilker and his son survived pneumococcal meningitis stemming from an ear infection in 1997. At the time the closest resource and support David Spilker and his son had was through the National Meningitis Trust in the UK. With donations from friends, family and significant endowments; the Meningitis Foundation of America was formed with the purpose to supporting others that were facing similar challenges, awareness, safety and vaccinations. Dave Spilker made the Meningitis Foundation of America, Inc. with the goals to essentially provide family support, information to the general public, and education to the medical community in order to reach universal early diagnosis for anyone suspected of having meningitis; to make meningitis vaccinations mandatory for everyone. The MFA has been the platform for the development of a number of meningitis based organizations across America such as the National Meningitis Association and Meningitis Angels of which founders of both organizations have presided as board members of the Meningitis Foundation of America. The terrible disease can take a loved one in 24-28 hours, devastating and dissolving families when a death (especially a child) is the end result.

 

We are here to eradicate this disease with education and vaccination. Our challenge to everyone is make them meningitis ambassadors empowered to spread the word with prevention and vaccination.

Our Mission

Our mission is to support sufferers of meningitis and their families through support groups, advocate for advanced research for the prevention and the long term effects of various meningitis strains as well as facilitating programs to educate the public about the causes and symptoms of meningitis.

Meet The Board

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PAUL ADAMS – PRESIDENT & CEO

With more than 25 years of management and directorship experience in the IT industry, Paul has extensive experience developing new business ideas by harnessing his experience with technology and expanding and restructuring existing businesses with a strong emphasis on strategic planning, customer service, sales and marketing. In January of 2016, Paul gracefully accepted the position as President and CEO for the Meningitis Foundation of America.

Caroline

CAROLINE L. PETRIE – National Secretary & CFO

Facilitating the headquarters of MFA in El Mirage, Arizona and its operations spread across the U.S., Caroline Petrie came to the Meningitis Foundation of America with years of medical, administrative, customer service experience and as an ordained minister. Caroline became involved in meningitis advocacy through her interest in needs, policy and resources for disabled communities and rare diseases. Working along side the organizations leaders, Caroline has a vast understanding of meningitis and it effects. On the day to day basis, Caroline is at the forefront of the MFA filtering communications with patients, medical professional and media relations.

Volunteers

MFA volunteers include meningitis survivors, parents, family members, friends and individuals in various communities that want to help spread awareness about meningitis risks and prevention. Each of our volunteers are dedicated to our fight against meningitis and has been trained in all aspects of services related to our organization.

 

MFA volunteers help carry out our mission by creating and conducting community awareness and education programs, including presentations, media outreach and other activities that reach families, students, community leaders and public health officials. They are committed to helping the public understand the signs and symptoms of meningitis and make informed decisions about immunization.

 

To become a volunteer, complete our online volunteer form.

Funding

The Meningitis Foundation of America (MFA) is funded through a number of sources including donations from individuals and foundations, restricted and unrestricted grants from corporations, governmental and non-governmental organizations. Presently, we do not accept grants from pharmaceutical companies as this allows us to remain objective about immunization guidelines, laws MFA maintains independence and control over all program and editorial content. Our funds are used to create and operate awareness programs, prevention programs and support programs for survivors and their families.

Content Review Disclosure

All medical information provided by the Meningitis Foundation of America (MFA) is based on information from established resources such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC). We are continuously working to assure the public that we are doing all that we can to keep our site current and accurate. Our content is regularly reviewed by qualified experts to ensure accuracy and that it is inline with medical and industry standards. Information on this website is provided for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Those seeking medical advice should consult a healthcare provider.

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Get Involved

Run, walk, volunteer, golf, give! However you decide – get involved! Everything you do makes a difference and we appreciate everything you do. The Meningitis Foundation of America raises funds to educate, vaccinate and eradicate meningitis. The MFA is dedicated to helping those whom have are victims of meningitis and their families through our support programs. Meningitis has destroyed too many lives. All Lives Matter! You can help prevent meningitis from destroying someone else. How will you get involved?

Donate

Get Involved. Donate Now!

Eradicate meningitis!

Across America, thousands of  people’s lives have been destroyed by meningitis. The amount of meningitis outbreaks has drastically risen across the United States . We are determined to educate the public of what meningitis is, how to get vaccinated and how to take preventative measures.

Thanks to people like you who share our vision of a world without meningitis, there have been major improvements in state legislation to make vaccination among school and college aged children mandatory.  We now know so much more about the different types and strains of meningitis and how it attacks the body. Unfortunately, in most cases meningitis is still life-threatening. Until we can protect people from contracting and spreading it, we need your help!  Your support is crucial as we continue this fight.

Donate Online

Thank you for your support in the fight against meningitis. Please complete the following information to process your online donation. All transactions conducted on this web site are encrypted using a secure server to protect your privacy. Your gift to MFA funds  education and awareness programs and services for people who have been affected by meningitis.

If you would like to donate by check, please make your check payable to Meningitis Foundation of America, Inc. and mail it to us at: Meningitis Foundation of America, Inc., P.O. Box 1818, El Mirage, AZ 85335.

MFA is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, and donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. For our Federal Tax ID # please email us.

Programs

For more than 18 years, the Meningitis Foundation of America (MFA) has helped save  the lives of thousands of  people throughout the United States by providing important awareness programs, prevention and vaccination information to individuals, families and communities. Over the years the MFA has pushed for legislation, advocated for meningitis victims and comforted parents that have lost loved ones to meningitis. The MFA  provides a broad spectrum of highly regarded services for children, youth and adults.

 

These are the programs we currently have available:

Camp Riley Scholarship
2016 Meningitis Brochure

Volunteer

We’re thrilled to have you onboard. We can’t do it alone.  It is through the time and care of ordinary people that we can do extraordinary things. We sincerely appreciate your desire to join the Meningitis Foundation of America as a volunteer. The Meningitis Foundation of America is always looking for people with various backgrounds, talents and skill levels.

The following is a list of volunteer opportunities:

Board Members

Volunteer Management

Awareness advocates

Education

Vaccination Drive volunteers

Driver

Translators and Interpreters

Grant Researching/Writing

Thank a Donor

Speakers

Public Affairs

Social Media

Clerical

Staff Support

Special Events

Take Action

MFA is a leader among national, state, and local organizations advocating for standard immunization policies and improvements in early diagnoses.

Advocate

The Meningitis Foundation of American advocates for meningitis research, mandatory and recommended vaccinations across states and industries, legislative ruling as well as other issues related to the importance of immunization, timely diagnosis and others issues surrounding meningitis.  From time to time, we may also comment on other health-related topics and sign onto letters published by other organizations, which we feel may have an impact on the meningitis community.

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Understanding Meningitis

When meningitis strikes, it can be confusing and difficult to identify the symptoms because they are very similar to symptoms one would experience having the flu or a cold. This Understanding Meningitis section is a guide to helping you learn about the various types of meningitis, how they affect the body, how meningitis can be contracted, treated and prevented.

What is Meningitis?

Meningitis is the inflammation of the membranes (meninges) surrounding a person’s brain and spinal cord. The inflammation is typically caused an infection of the cerebral fluid.

Meningitis is typically caused by a bacteria, viruses, fungus or parasites that lead to an infection. Meningitis can also be caused by injury, illness or substances. When meningitis occurs, the membranes (meninges) become inflamed. Meninges are a collection of membranes the cover the brain and spinal cord. Their primary purpose is to protect the central nervous system. Inflammation of the meninges is caused by an infection of the fluid (cerebrospinal fluid) surrounding the brain and spinal cord. The most common form of meningitis is viral meningitis. The severity of meningitis varies depending on its form. There are 5 categories of meningitis – bacteria, viral, parasitic, fungal and non-infectious meningitis. Knowing the cause of meningitis is important because the infectiveness, spread, danger and treatment can differ.

Types of Meningitis

VIRAL    

Viral meningitis is the most common type of infectious meningitis in the United States. Viral meningitis is generally less severe and resolves without specific treatment. Viral meningitis is rarely fatal, but can be debilitating and have long term after effects. Some people only feel the symptoms for 7-10 days while others may have symptoms lasting for 3-4 months, which can lead to hospitalization and prolonged absence of school or work. Viral meningitis is most often caused by enteroviruses and generally are at their highest risk of transmission during the summer to fall seasons.

Enteroviruses are a group of viruses associated with several syndromes and diseases. Enterovirus exposure is extremely high but less than 1 out of 1000 infections become viral meningitis. Not all people with enteroviruses develop meningitis. Neonates, infants, and adults are all at risk of contracting viral meningitis.

Viral meningitis is spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions (kissing, coughing, sneezing, and sharing a cup, utensil, lip gloss, or cigarettes). Viral meningitis can also be contracted by coming in physical contact with another person’s bodily fluids who has meningitis, most likely through ingestion. Viral meningitis is also found in one’s stool. Herpes simplex and genital herpes can cause viral meningitis as well as chicken pox, rabies and HIV. The incubation period of viral meningitis may range from a few days to several weeks from the time of infection until the development of symptoms. Risk factors for development are exposure to someone with a recent viral infection or a suppressed immune system.

Viral meningitis is often referred to as spinal meningitis, aseptic meningitis and sterile meningitis interchangeably.

Mollarets Meningitis is a form of viral meningitis that is recurring. Mollarets meningitis is considered rare. However, recent research and studies have categorized it has being more common than initially thought. Mollarets meningitis has the same characteristics as other forms of meningitis except they are recurring and often are accompanied with long-term irregularity of the nervous system. Mollarets meningitis has been suggested to be cause by the herpes simplex virus, HSV-2 and HSV-1.

 

BACTERIAL

Bacterial meningitis can be quite severe and may result in brain damage, hearing loss, limb loss or learning disability. For bacterial meningitis, it is also important to know which type of bacteria is causing the meningitis because specific antibiotics would need to be administered.

Bacterial meningitis is extremely dangerous and can be life threatening. Bacteria meningitis is cause by bacteria instead of a virus as with viral meningitis. Age plays a large factor in the type of bacteria that causes meningitis. Group B Streptococci,Listeria monocytogenes, meningococcus and streptococcus pneumoniae are all form of bacterial meningitis. Bacteria meningitis is especially danger because it can spread quickly causing an epidemic. College students living in dormitories are at increased risk. Weakened immune systems from diseases, medication and surgical procedures can cause an individual to be considered high risk for bacterial meningitis. Travelers to foreign nations such as the sub-Saharan desert in Africa can be susceptible to meningitis. Head trauma can also potentially lead to meningitis if nasal bacteria is able to enter the meningeal space. Symptoms can appear quickly within 3-7 days. Seizures and coma’s are often a symptom of severe bacterial infection. Health people may carry the bacteria that causes meningitis in their nasal cavity and throat without becoming ill.

Meningococcal Disease is the combination of meningococcal meningitis (bacterial infection of the meninges of the brain and spinal cord) and meningococcemia (a blood infection). Meningococcal bacteria (neisseria meningitides bacteria) is the cause of meningococcal meningitis infections. Meningococcal meningitis requires immediate attention as it can cause severe damage and even death within 24-48 hours. Meningococcal meningitis survivors often times suffer severe long term effect. Everyone is susceptible to meningococcal meningitis unless vaccinated. However, there are cases that have not been preventable through vaccination.

Pneumococcal meningitis is cause when pneumonia bacteria (Streptococcus pneumonia) have infected the bloodstream and infect the meninges surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Pneumococcal meningitis may cause septicemia leading to severe damage to the organs. Like other forms of meningitis, pneumococcal meningitis is carried in the back of the nasal cavity and throat. It can be transmitted through coughing, saliva and the exchange of respiratory fluids within close quarters. If suspected, pneumococcal meningitis should be treated quickly. 1 in 5 people who become sick with pneumococcal meningitis will die. 25-50% will experience long term brain and neurological complications. Vaccinations are available. Upon the recommendation from a physician, those at risk such as children, the elderly and those susceptible to pneumococcus infections should be vaccinated.

FUNGAL

Fungal meningitis develops after a fungus has spread through the bloodstream. The most common form of fungal meningitis is cryptococcal fungus meningitis. Fungal meningitis is often prevalent in those with weakened immune systems such as those with Cancer and AIDS. Fungal meningitis is not transmittable from person to person. Fungal meningitis occurs when fungus has been introduced to the boy through medications administered via injections such as steroids. Fungal meningitis is also thought to be contracted through inhalation in environments heavily contaminated with bird feces. Although not contagious, fungal meningitis carries the same symptoms as other forms of meningitis and it diagnosis will also need to be done by lumbar puncture.

 

PARASITIC

Parasitic meningitis is caused by Naegleria fowler. Naegleria fowler is found in warm bodies of freshwater and can enter the body through the nose. Naegleria fowler causes primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). PAM is a brain infection that destroys brain tissue. Naegleria fowler is found worldwide. Parasitic meningitis caused by PAM is rare and little is known about the treatment and after effects of parasitic meningitis as most infections have been fatal.

 

NON-INFECTIOUS

Non-infectious meningitis is a form of meningitis that is not spread person to person. Non-infectious meningitis can be cause by disease, medication, drugs, head injury or surgery. Cancer and Lupus are common causes of non-infectious meningitis. The symptoms for non-infectious meningitis are similar to other forms of meningitis which may include: nausea, headaches, photophobia and vomiting.

Chemical meningitis is also classified as non-infectious meningitis. Neoplastic meningitis (meningitis carcinomatosa, leptomeningeal carcinomatosis) is directly related to cancerous cells.

Symptoms

The symptoms for all types of meningitis are often the same. It is difficult if not impossible to diagnose the type of meningitis a person may have without having the proper medical procedure. Meningitis symptoms may include:

High Fever

Severe headache

Nausea

Vomiting

Stiff neck

Photophobia (sensitivity to light)

Altered mental state

 

In children, symptoms such as:

High temperatures

Drowsiness

Rashes

High-pitched cry

Dislike to being held

Lethargy

 

Can be tough to detect or might not even occur in neonates and infants. Parents that notice these symptoms should seek medical attention immediately!

 

The onset of seizures, may not be a confirmation of meningitis but it is a sign that there is an immediate need for medical attention.

Prevention

Recommended Meningitis Prevention

For bacterial meningitis there are vaccinations against certain strains. Vaccinations are available forNeisseria meningitidis (meningococcus), Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus), and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). For those that have come in close contact with someone whom has meningococcal meningitis, it may be advised that they take antibiotics to reduce the risk of contracting the disease.

 

There is no current vaccine available to prevent anyone from developing viral meningitis. A majority of those with enteroviruses aren’t symptomatic, so it’s tough to prevent the spread of viral meningitis. The best protection against viral meningitis is to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, keep surfaces such as door handles, remote controls and other devices that are touched by multiple people clean, avoid sharing drinking and eating utensils, cosmetics and such with other when you or they are sick and control insect and rodent infestations.

 

In general there is not a specific course of action to take to avoid fungal meningitis. People with weakened immune systems such as those with HIV are more at risk for contracting fungal meningitis. Those with HIV should avoid high fungi environments such as those with a high level bird droppings and places known to have high levels of fungi.

 

There is no vaccination or preventable activity against parasitic meningitis. It is found in warm fresh bodies of water such as lakes and rivers and therefore ins unavoidable for those that frequent water sports during warm parts of the year. Recommendations have been to avoid com in gin contact with sediment during water activities. If using irrigation devices to flush out sinuses it is imperative to use water that has been sterilized or distilled.

Treatment

Diagnosis:

Early diagnosis and treatment are very important. If symptoms occur, the patient should see a doctor immediately. All types of meningitis are diagnosed by growing bacteria from a sample of the infected person’s spinal fluid, which is collected by performing a lumbar puncture (spinal tap). Results show whether or not the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) has increased white blood cells. Blood tests are also conducted to determine whether or not there is a significant increase or decrease in the white blood cell count.

 

Viral Meningitis Treatment:

There are no effective treatments for most viruses that cause meningitis. Medical doctors recommend plenty of rest, relaxation, fluids, and medicine to relieve a fever or headache.

 

Bacterial Meningitis Treatment:

Bacterial meningitis can be treated with a number of effective antibiotics. It is important, however, that treatment be started early in the course of the disease. Appropriate antibiotic treatment of most common types of bacterial meningitis should reduce the risk of dying from meningitis, although cases have varied person to person.

 

Fungal Meningitis Treatment:

Fungal meningitis is treated with a anti-fungal medications. The medications are administered through an IV and the length of treatment can vary from patient to patient.

 

Parasitic Meningitis Treatment:

It is unclear the effectiveness of treatment for parasitic meningitis as survivorship has been rare.

After Effects

Most people who get meningitis and septicemia survive, often without any after effects, but sometimes these diseases cause a range of disabilities and problems that can alter people’s lives. After effects may be temporary or permanent, physical or emotional.

 

People respond to their own situations differently, but frequently are unsure of what to expect after meningitis or septicemia. Relatives and friends may also feel the need for information, because the person who is recovering often needs a great deal of support. Getting over meningitis or septicemia makes major demands on people. Fortunately, many problems improve and disappear over time.

 

After effects most likely to be caused by Meningitis:

 

  • Memory loss

  • Difficulty retaining information

  • Lack of concentration

  • Clumsiness

  • Co-ordination problems

  • Residual Headaches

  • Deafness

  • Hearing problems

  • Tinnitus

  • Dizziness

  • Loss of balance

  • Learning difficulties (ranging from temporary learning deficiencies to long term mental impairment)

  • Epilepsy

  • seizures

  • Weakness

  • Paralysis

  • Spasms of part of the body

  • Cerebral palsy

  • Speech problems

  • Loss of sight

  • Changes in sight

 

Additional after effects most likely to be caused by Septicemia:

  • Arthritis

  • Stiffness in joints

  • Scarring

  • Skin damage

  • Amputations

  • Kidney damage

  • Lung damage

 

Emotional after effects that may occur after Meningitis and Septicemia:

  • Clinginess

  • Temper Tantrums

  • Moodiness or aggression

  • Disturbed sleep

  • Nightmares

  • Bed-wetting

  • Changes in Character

  • Learning Difficulties

  • Depression

  • Fear of Doctors and Hospitals

  • Other behavioral and emotional problems

 

Who has after effects?

Most people recover with no after effects and not all after effects are permanent. The likelihood of getting after effects from meningitis or septicaemia depends on several factors including the type and severity of the illness. People who have been desperately ill may have spent a long time in intensive care. Research has shown that intensive care can be a distressing experience both for the person who has the illness and for their family.

 

Currently the majority of cases of bacterial meningitis and septicaemia are caused by meningococcal infection. This produces severely disabling after effects in about one in twelve survivors, although patients who have severe meningococcal septicaemia tend to have a worse outcome. After meningococcal disease, pneumococcal meningitis is the main type and it is more likely to produce serious damage. Neonatal meningitis occurring in the first month of life also carries a higher risk of after effects than most other forms.

 

A person recovering from viral meningitis may experience similar problems to someone who has had bacterial meningitis, but will rarely have severe after effects.

 

Careful and early follow up of patients discharged after meningitis and septicaemia is important. An estimated 25% of people who survive meningitis or septicaemia will have less obvious after effects, such as difficulties with co-ordination, concentration and memory. These are usually temporary.

 

Good and Bad Days

Although some people are completely back to normal within a matter of weeks but it can take many months to recover from meningitis and septicaemia. People often find that they have days when they feel very good, and others when they feel so bad that they worry they are becoming ill again. It is important to ‘listen’ to the needs of your body. There is no magic formula to feeling better, because the body needs time to recover fully. It is important to mention to employers and teachers that you may need time off. Help and support from your family doctor can be invaluable, and a doctor’s note will be necessary if you need a longer period of rest.

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FAQ

What exactly is meningitis? 

Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the lining which surrounds the brain. The disease should not be confused with encephalitis which is inflammation of the brain itself.

 

How many types of meningitis are there?

Essentially, there are 5 distinct types of meningitis; viral, bacterial, fungal, parasitic and non-infectious.

 

Just how common is each type?

There are not exact figures available on a month-to-month basis. On average the CDC reports an estimated 3,000 cases per year in North America.

 

What causes Meningitis?

The bacteria which cause bacterial meningitis live in the back of the nose and throat region and are carried at any given time by between 10% and 25% of the population. It causes meningitis when it gets into the bloodstream and travels to the meninges. What triggers this movement in a small number of unfortunate people remains the subject of research. With viral meningitis, the viruses responsible can be picked up through poor hygiene or polluted water.

 

How are the bacteria and virus spread?

Both are spread by coughing, sneezing and kissing but they should not be regarded as either water-borne or air-borne. It is a mistake to assume that the viruses and bacteria can be blown in the wind and float in water because they CANNOT live for very long outside the human body. Also see question 4 above.

 

Can anyone get meningitis?

Yes, although research shows that certain age groups are more susceptible than others. These are the under 5’s, the 16-25’s and the over-55’s.

 

Is meningitis seasonal?

Either form can occur at ANY time but elsewhere in the world there is a pattern which shows that bacterial meningitis occurs more in the winter months (November-March inclusive) while viral meningitis sees most cases occurring during the summer months.

 

What are the after effects of meningitis? 

With both forms there will be a wide variation in exactly how the disease affects a sufferer in the long term. Tiredness, recurring headaches, short-term memory difficulties and concentration problems are often reported, as are temper tantrums, forgetting recently-learned skills and babyish behavior in children. Mood swings, aggression, balance problems and clumsiness can all make daily life difficult both for the sufferer and his/her family and friends but these should pass in time.  Deafness (permanent or temporary) is a more serious outcome, while epilepsy/seizures, sight problems and brain damage have been known but are relatively rare.

 

What are the main symptoms?

Again, with both forms there is a wide range which can onset in different ‘combinations’. In adults and older children vomiting, high temperature, severe headaches, neck stiffness, a dislike of bright lights, drowsiness, other joint pains and fits may be present. In babies and infants watch for fever with hands and feet feeling cold, vomiting, refusing feeds, high pitched crying, a dislike of handling, neck retraction, a staring expression, difficulty in waking and a pale or blotchy complexion.

 

Isn’t there a rash to watch for too?

Yes, and it is VERY important. It can occur in anyone of ANY age and can begin on ANY part of the body. It looks like small clusters of tiny pin pricks at the beginning, which can quickly develop into areas of skin damage. They are purple in color and will NOT turn white when pressed.

 

Why is the rash so important? 

The development of the rash in the way described in question 10 is a key indicator of septicemia (blood poisoning). If it is seen, it is ABSOLUTELY VITAL that the sufferer is taken to the nearest Emergency Room WITHOUT DELAY. Septicemia develops when the bacterium which causes meningitis multiples while it is in the bloodstream and if not treated quickly can be fatal or mean the loss of limbs or fingers/toes.

 

Do all the symptoms appear at once?

No. Some will appear while others may not appear at all. This can cause difficulties in diagnosing meningitis, complicated by the fact that many symptoms are like the common cold. However, over and above the symptoms themselves, it will become obvious to anyone close to the sufferer that he/she is becoming very ill, VERY quickly.

 

What should I do if I see anyone showing these symptoms?

Act quickly. Firstly, describe the symptoms as accurately as possible to the doctor. If you cannot reach him/her or if they cannot come immediately, get the person to the nearest ER and be prepared to insist on immediate attention.

 

Wouldn’t it be quicker to by-pass the family doctor?

It depends on your individual circumstances. Diagnosing the form of meningitis is complicated. You should contact both your family doctor and head for the emergency room if you feel your situation calls for so urgency.

 

Is it true there are different types of bacterial meningitis?

Yes, they are called strains and there are several worth mentioning; meningococcal, pneumococcal, Hib, TB and neonatal meningitis. TB and neonatal are very rare, and Hib (which almost exclusively affects under 4’s) has become rarer since the introduction of a vaccine for all under 4’s.

 

So meningococcal and pneumococcal are the most common strains?

Yes, pneumococcal meningitis tends to affect children, older people and anyone who has already had a chronic illness such as heart disease, liver disease or diabetes. Meningococcal is the most common strain and can be further sub-divided into three groups, commonly referred to as A, B, C.

 

What is the position on available vaccines?

There are vaccinations available through your family doctor. In some states vaccinations are also available through your local pharmacist.

 

What of the future of vaccines?

It is universally agreed that vaccine development is the route to take in fighting meningitis. Some new vaccines are currently being tested and the scientific community remains hopeful that further studies will be made in the next several years. While this research is highly complex, technological advances continue to be made.

 

Why do people fear meningitis?

People fear meningitis because of the low number of cases reported and the fact that there is very little information that has been explained to the public. Until the Meningitis Foundation of America began in 1997, the U.S. had no national organization working in this area offering advice and support to the general public. We believe that the public and opinion-formers, such as the media, are becoming increasingly aware of the facts about meningitis.

 

Frequently Asked Questions About Prevention

How is the virus spread?

Enteroviruses, the most common cause of viral meningitis, are most often spread through direct contact with respiratory secretions (e.g., saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus) of an infected person. This usually happens by shaking hands with an infected person or touching something they have handled, and then rubbing your own nose or mouth. The virus can also be found in the stool of persons who are infected. The virus is spread through this route mainly among small children who are not yet toilet trained. It can also be spread this way to adults changing the diapers of an infected infant. The incubation period for enteroviruses is usually between 3 and 7 days from the time you are infected until you develop symptoms. You can usually spread the virus to someone else beginning about 3 days after you are infected until about 10 days after you develop symptoms.

 

 Can I get viral meningitis if I’m around someone who has it?

The viruses that cause viral meningitis are contagious. Enteroviruses, for example, are very common during the summer and early fall, and many people are exposed to them. However, most infected persons either have no symptoms or develop only a cold or rash with low-grade fever. Only a small proportion of infected persons actually develop meningitis. Therefore, if you are around someone who has viral meningitis, you have a moderate chance of becoming infected, but a very small chance of developing meningitis.

 

 How can I reduce my chances of becoming infected?

Most persons who are infected with enteroviruses do not become sick, so it can be difficult to prevent the spread of the virus. However, adhering to good personal hygiene can help to reduce your chances of becoming infected. If you are in contact with someone who has viral meningitis, the most effective method of prevention is to wash your hands thoroughly and often. Also, cleaning contaminated surfaces and soiled articles first with soap and water, and then disinfecting them with a dilute solution of chlorine-containing bleach (made by mixing approximately ¼ cup of bleach with 1 gallon of water) can be a very effective way to inactivate the virus, especially in institutional settings such as child care centers.

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