What is Meningitis?
Updated: Mar 31, 2019
Meningitis is a symptom following infection.
"menin"= meninges ( coverings of the brain)
"itis"= inflammation Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges.
Numerous infections result in inflammation of the meninges from severe bacterial infections to viral and even fungal infections.
We will cover a few of the pathogens that have vaccines available on the South African schedule.
One type of bacteria, Neisseria meningitidis, is more serious that others and a susceptible patients can deteriorate very quickly as the bacteria cause meningococcal disease. Although life threatening, it is rare and it's not as transmissible as other diseases like measles.
The CDC states, " The bacteria are spread by exchanging respiratory and throat secretions
(saliva or spit) during close (for example, coughing or kissing) or lengthy contact, especially if living
in the same household. Fortunately, these bacteria are not as contagious as germs that cause the common cold or the flu. The bacteria are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the
air where a person with meningococcal disease has been." (1)
In fact, the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease are common and one in ten of us carry the bacteria at the back of the nose and throat without ever knowing we have it. Invasive infection is determined by ones immune status. Two people can be exposed to this bacteria and one may be asymptomatic, the next person may get a snotty nose, a headache and flu like symptoms and the highly susceptible may develop invasive meningococcal disease. You may increase your chances of developing this by using unnecessary immune suppressing drugs, allowing the infection to go deeper causing inflammation of the meninges ( aka meningitis ) (or meningococcal septicemia, another complication of this bacteria).
In 2017, 136 cases of laboratory-confirmed invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) were identified in South Africa with serogroup B predominating with 45 cases. (2)
So, out of a population of 56.7 MILLION 0.0002% of our
population had invasive menngococcal infection.
The vaccine available for Neisseria meningitidis (serotype A, C, Y and W-135) is Menactra
Haemophilus influenza type B (HIB)
Haemophilus influenzae (H. influenzae) has six serotypes named a-f. Serotype b (Hib) is responsible for most cases of serious illness due H. influenzae. HIB, like Neisseria meningitidis, can be invasive and lead to inflammation of the meninges. But just like N. meningitidis, you have asymptomatic carriers, who carry HIB in their nose and do not get sick from it.
"H. influenzae, including Hib, are spread person-to-person through respiratory droplets that occur when someone who has the bacteria in their nose or throat coughs or sneezes. Most of the time, H. influenzae are spread by people who have the bacteria in their noses and throats but who are not ill (asymptomatic)." (3)
In 2017 South Africa had 313 cases of invasive H. influenzae. Of that twenty-two percent of cases, 41 cases, were serotype b (HIB) (2)
So, out of a population of 56.7 MILLION 0.00007% of our
population had invasive HIB infection.
Streptococcus pneumoniae are the bacteria responsible for invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD), this occurs when the bacteria successfully penetrate the body’s barrier defence .
"Asymptomatic nasopharyngeal colonization is common and ranges from 20% to 40% in children and from 5 to 10% in adults. As with all diseases, the outcome of colonisation depends on the virulence of the specific serotype and on the host’s immune response. Susceptibility is increased by processes affecting the integrity of the lower respiratory tract including influenza, chronic lung disease or exposure to irritants, such as cigarette smoke. " (3)
Pneumococcal infections can range from ear and sinus infections to pneumonia and bloodstream infections. South Africa had 2441 cases of invasive pneumococcal disease in South Africa in 2017, of these 9 Serogroups 3, 8, 12F, 19A, and 19F were the most predominant serogroups causing IPD in 2017. (2)
In our population of 56.7 MILLION 0.004% had invasive HIB infection.
The most important factor that guides our outcome is the hosts response to the invading pathogen! We cannot overemphasize the importance of a healthy, well balanced terrain ( immune system). Two people can encounter the same pathogen yet one ends up being an asymptomatic carrier and is completely oblivious of the colonization, and the other person with a compromised defence system develops symptoms or invasive disease.
So how do we prevent pathogens from going deeper, resulting in more invasive disease? LOOK AFTER OUR IMMUNE SYSTEM.
Don't suppress our immune systems innate response; *Do not suppress a fever. A fever is your bodies response to infection. As the temp rises the bugs die. As you give Calpol or Nurofen or ponstan you provide ideal conditions for the invader to thrive. *Do not dry up mucosal secretions with antihistamines. The snot is the bodies way of flushing out the bugs. *Do not suppress rashes with steroids. The bodies way of eliminating the irritant is through the skin ( and this is why the chicken pox / measles / rubella / Roseola rash appears at the end of the disease.
Be mindful of everything that you put in your body. Let food "be thy medicine", avoid unnecessary antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals. Seek alternative intervention for most minor infections, they ARE highly effective. We should be far more fearful of suppressing the immune response
with medications than the fear or a fever or cough. In life threatening situations pharmaceutical drugs do save lives, but in most situations it is best avoided and rather let the body use its wisdom to fight off the invaders.
I hope this new perspective emphasizes the importance of maintaining a healthy functioning immune system with good nutrition and minimal allopathic intervention, this far more important than vaccination.