Princeton sophomore student Micheal Moorin believes he contracted meningitis B while overseas in Greece for the summer. Michael is the seventh of eight established cases of meningitis at Princeton University since last spring. The recent meningitis outbreak is scary and school officials are recommending that all students get vaccinated.
In a live interview with Huffington Post’s Mike Sacks he said that he was rushed to a hospital in Greece and later flown to a hospital in Paris to be treated. He suffered from an “excruciating headache”, nausea, and unusual rash. He was surprised by the diseases “rapid onset and intensity.”
A female student began experiencing symptoms Wednesday night and was taken to a hospital Thursday. She is still being treated for what is now the eighth meningitis case affecting Princeton students. The seven other cases were caused by a very rare serotype B bacterium. A determination is still pending on whether this student’s case is related.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, or outer layers of the brain and spinal cord that can be caused by a bacterium, virus, parasite, fungus, or a non-infectious means. The most common type is viral meningitis. It can be caused by Enteroviruses (Polioviruses, Coxsakievirus, Rhinoviruses and Echoviruses); herpes, HIV, Rubulavirus (mumps), measles, Varicella (chicken pox), Epstein Barr virus, Influenza, and West Nile.
Bacterial meningitis outbreaks are the most dangerous type as the disease can lead to death even with proper treatment. It can be caused by Streptococcus, E. coli, Listeria, and Haemophilus Influenzae type b.
Fungal meningitis is rare and not contagious. The most common cause is Cryptococcus, occurring when the fungus travels from the blood to the spinal cord. It is usually only a concern for people with severely weakened immune systems.
Parasitic meningitis is caused by contact with water containing Naegleria fowleri. It travels through an individual’s nose then up to their brain. However, the nasal route is specific. You cannot be infected by drinking water that contains it. Most commonly it is acquired by swimming in freshwater.
Meningitis can be transmitted through close contact with oral secretions, contaminated food, fecal matter, soil contaminated with fungal spores, or warm freshwater (containing parasites).
The symptoms of meningitis are fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, sensitivity to light, seizures, and hallucinations. Sometimes it can be detected by a bulging fontanelle in infants who also display behavior like poor feeding, irritability, and extreme sleepiness.
All types of meningitis are diagnosed with blood and cerebrospinal fluid tests. Two other useful tests are for Kernig’s and Brudzinski’s sign.
Most people recover from viral meningitis on their own within 7-10 days. There is no treatment for it. On the other hand parasitic meningitis is almost always fatal even if treated. Bacterial meningitis is treated with antibiotics and fungal meningitis with antifungal medications.
Any form of meningitis is a cause for concern but there are quite a few things you can do to protect yourself. Please follow the tips below to help prevent another meningitis outbreak.
- Always washing hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers, coughing, or blowing your nose
- Clean surfaces that can become highly contaminated such as door knobs, handles, and remote controls with soap and water followed by a diluted chlorine bleach solution
- Avoid kissing others, sharing utensils, or personal items such as lipstick when you are ill
- Get appropriate vaccinations for you and your family members
- Avoid mosquito bites
- Control rodents in and around your homer
By: Lara Stielow