With the recent outbreak of meningitis at Princeton University, the world is on the lookout. While there is a vaccine that Princeton students are receiving, it is not available to the general public. Most people recover from the diseases but it does depend on a number of factors, including how early it is caught. It’s why it is so important to know the symptoms and risk factors of Meningitis.
There are some people more likely to contract the disease. The most common age group to get it are infants and toddlers. This is because younger people are at a higher risk. However, it can affect people of any age and there are different pathogens that can lead to it developing. It is always worth keeping an eye out for symptoms. Some medications and other diseases can make the immune system weaker. If you have recently had surgery, your immune system will also be much weaker. You are more at risk of developing the disease.
This is an infectious disease and it leads to one of the biggest risk factors of Meningitis and when you should really look out for symptoms. Areas where people are grouped together are more at risk than those who remain away from the groups. With a lot of other people around, when one person gets an infectious disease, most other people will. This is why it has spread so much around Princeton campus because so many college students are living in close proximity of each other.
Travel and working with the pathogens that cause the disease are the two other main risk factors to be aware of. If you travel to sub-Saharan Africa during the dry season, you are more at risk then when traveling to most other places. Of course, if you are exposed to the pathogens, it makes sense that could get ill.
Knowing the Symptoms of Meningitis
The problem with this disease is that the first symptoms are like many other illnesses, especially common colds and the flu. Aching muscles and joints, shivering and cold hands or feet are some of the earliest symptoms. From there, you may have a fever, nausea and vomiting and generally just feel like you are unwell.
A fever is when the body temperature reaches 100.4F or more. If a young child has a temperature this high, it is essential that medical treatment is sought immediately.
The disease spreads quickly and can develop into confusion and drowsiness. However, these are still symptoms of other illnesses. The clearest signs that it is meningitis are having a sore neck, blotchy red rashes that don’t change when placing a glass on them and having fits. Adults can also suffer from light intolerance, known as photophobia.
In infant and children, no appetite, unusual crying and being unresponsive and floppy are signs. Babies can be so sleepy that they struggle to wake up and may not want to be held.
It is always worth knowing the symptoms and risk factors of meningitis but the recent spread at Princeton reiterates the importance. The sooner the illness is diagnosed, the earlier treatment can start and a person is more likely to make a full recovery. If left, is it possible that a person will get blood poisoning.
By Alexandria Ingham