Common Diseases


Meningitis is a disease caused by the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord usually caused by an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis may develop in response to a number of causes, usually bacteria or viruses, but meningitis can also be caused by physical injury, cancer or certain drugs. The severity of illness and the treatment for meningitis differ depending on the cause. Thus, it is important to know the specific cause of meningitis.

Bacterial meningitis is usually severe. While most people with meningitis recover, it can cause serious complications, such as brain damage, hearing loss, or learning disabilities. Travelers to the meningitis belt in sub-Saharan Africa may be at risk for meningococcal meningitis, particularly during the dry season. Also at risk for meningococcal meningitis are travelers to Mecca during the annual Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage. Meningitis infection may show up in a person by a sudden onset of fever, headache, and stiff neck. It will often have other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, increased light sensitivity, and confusion. The symptoms of bacterial meningitis can appear quickly or over several days. Typically they develop within 3-7 days after exposure.  The most effective way to protect yourself against certain types of bacterial meningitis is to complete the recommended vaccine schedule. There are vaccines for three types of bacteria that can cause meningitis: Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus), Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus), and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib).

Viral memingitis can affect anyone and are most often spread from person to person through fecal contamination or respiratory secretions by an infected person. It has the same symptoms as bacterial meningitis but is usually less severe than bacterial meningitis and normally clears up without specific treatment. The symptoms of viral meningitis usually last from 7 to 10 days, and people with normal immune systems usually recover completely.There are no vaccines for the most common causes of viral meningitis. Thus, the best way to prevent it is to prevent viral infections through good hygiene and sanitation practices.

Parasitic meningitis also known as primary amebic meningoencephalitis is a very rare form of meningitis that causes a fatal brain infection. The parasite enters the body through the nose and is caused by a microscopic ameba. This typically occurs when people go swimming or diving in warm freshwater places, like lakes and rivers. The ameba travels up the nose to the brain where it destroys the brain tissue. In its early stages, its symptoms may be similar to symptoms of bacterial meningitis and start 1 to 7 days after infection. The initial symptoms include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, and stiff neck. Later symptoms include confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, loss of balance, seizures, and hallucinations. After the start of symptoms, the disease progresses rapidly and usually causes death within 1 to 12 days. There is no treatment or vaccination for parasitic meningitis.