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Unconfirmed meningitis case reported in Franschhoek

As I have been informed that quite a few people have panicked regarding this post I would like to apologies for unnecessary anxiety that might have been caused as this is NOT a pandemic scare. As Dr Tracey Gardener pointed out meningitis is not highly contagious and there are medical treatments available. This post was meant specifically as an educational post regarding the signs and symptoms and the effects of this disease only as people are often slow to recognize or unaware of the symptoms and only seek medical attention at later stages that might cause serious bodily harm or some cases lead to death.

There has been a report of a possible Tuberculous meningitis(bacterial) or Cryptococcal meningitis(fungal) case in Franscchoek this afternoon.

Menengitus is described as a serious disease in which there is inflammation of the meninges, caused by viral, fungal or bacterial infection, and marked by intense headache and fever, sensitivity to light, and muscular rigidity.

According to WebMD the syptoms of Menengitus include the following:”

Sometimes, these symptoms follow a flu-like illness, ear infection, orsinus infection.

If your child is too young to talk, you may have a hard time detecting some of these symptoms. So in infants and young children, the only evident meningitis symptoms might be:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty feeding
  • High-pitched cry
  • Pale or blotchy skin
  • Crying when held
  • Arching back

The bacterial form of meningitis is considered an extremely serious illness that requires immediate medical care and if not treated quickly can lead to death within a few hours. It can also in some cases cause permanent brain damage as well as damage to other parts of the body

The speed with which meningitis symptoms develop varies. Bacterial meningitis symptoms come on quickly, usually over a period of hours. With viral meningitis, symptoms might develop over several days.”

View a video about Meningitis here: Meningitus: Are you at Risk(WebMD)

According to the Healthline website:

“Most cases of CM are caused by a fungus called Cryptococcus neoformans. This fungus is found in soil all over the world. It is usually found in soil that contains bird droppings.

Cryptococcus gattii, the other fungus that causes CM, is not found in bird droppings. Instead, it is associated with trees, most commonly eucalyptus trees. It grows in the debris around the trees’ bases.

Cryptococcal meningitis usually occurs in people who have a compromised immune system. It rarely occurs in someone who has a normal immune system. Of the two fungi that can cause the condition, gattii is the one more likely to infect someone with a normal immune system.

Symptoms of CM usually come on slowly. Within a few days to a few weeks of contact, an infected person may develop the following symptoms:

  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • mental changes such as: confusion, hallucinations, and/or personality changes
  • lethargy
  • sensitivity to light

In some cases, the infected person may experience a stiff neck and fever.

If left untreated, cryptococcal meningitis may lead to more serious symptoms such as:

  • brain damage
  • coma
  • hearing loss
  • hydrocephalus (“water on the brain”)

Eventually, untreated CM is fatal, especially in a person with HIV/AIDS. According to the British Medical Bulletin, 10 to 30 percent of HIV-related cryptococcal meningitis patients die from the illness (Bicanic and Harrison, 2005).”

Even though the case of meningitis and its possible cause is unconfirmed at this point we should all take head and educate ourselves around the signs and symptoms and not hesitate seeking medical help if we or someone we love are experiencing these symptoms. Rather be safe than sorry.

Monika Vermeulen

Medicare EMR A-Z_halfpage_fc_option1_V02

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