Meningitis Treatment

meningitis treatment

Although it generally varies, on average, there are about 4,000 cases of meningitis reported in the United States each year, with approximately 11 percent who succumb to the infection. Timely treatment is critical, particularly in cases where a pregnant woman is infected and her unborn baby is at risk.

The type of meningitis is what dictates the severity of the condition and specific treatment options. If medical professionals failed to properly diagnose and treat meningitis during your pregnancy, please call Stern Law, PLLC at (800) 462-5772 to discuss the recovery options that may be available for you and your child.

Treatment options for meningitis

There are various drugs that are used to treat meningitis, the type of which depends upon the underlying cause of a person’s meningitis. These medications include:

  • Acyclovir, or Zovirax – This medication is usually administered to those that contracted meningitis due to HSV-2 as well as a number of arboviruses
  • Antibiotics
  • Antifungal medications
  • Over-the-counter medications – These medications help reduce pain and fever

Additional treatment options include:

  • Hospitalization
  • Bed rest
  • Nutritional support, including plenty of fluids
  • Corticosteroids to reduce brain swelling and inflammation
  • Anticonvulsant medications should a patient suffer from seizures
  • Chemotherapy for those whose meningitis is caused by cancer

Overall, a doctor must determine the safest method of treatment for a patient. For instance, certain forms of treatment may not be appropriate for a pregnant woman or a newborn. Therefore, it is best to speak with a doctor to determine the treatment options should meningitis be suspected during pregnancy, or in an infant.

How can meningitis be prevented?

The good news is that there are a number of precautions that can be taken to prevent meningitis, which are as follows:

  • Avoid traveling to areas where the rate of meningitis infection is high, such as in Africa (typically areas south of the Saharan Desert)
  • Get vaccinated, and have children vaccinated for the measles, mumps, rubella and other viruses that may lead to meningitis
  • Practice good hygiene to avoid transmission from others
  • Cover-up or use insect repellant when in areas where mosquitos and ticks are prevalent
  • Avoid areas where standing water is present
  • Speak to a doctor if there is a history of HSV infection
  • Educate children about practicing good hygiene habits
  • Educate children about avoiding mosquito and tick bites
  • Never share utensils, food or beverages with others
  • Control mice and rats; contact a pest control firm if there’s an infestation of rodents in or around a home

Pregnancy, HSV and herpes meningitis in newborns: What expectant women should know

Viral meningitis can be caused by a number of viruses. However, during pregnancy, your fetus can contract a condition known as herpes meningitis if you are infected with herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2), a sexually transmitted disease that causes genital lesions.

Newborn exposure can occur at various stages of pregnancy; however, transmission of HSV-2 to an infant is most prevalent during labor. Essentially, 85 percent of all cases involve transmission to an infant once he or she comes in direct contact with the vaginal wall of an infected mother. The risk of neonatal infection also increases in a situation where your child is born prematurely or in situations where he or she is subject to overly invasive monitoring. Also, the risk exists if your membranes rupture prematurely during pregnancy, and where instruments such as forceps and vacuum extractors are used during delivery.

In the United States, an estimated 20 to 50 per 100,000 live births are affected by HSV transmission to a newborn. In other words, although approximately 2 to 30 percent of pregnant women have genital herpes, a very small percentage of babies are born with the disease.

For pregnant women with a history of HSV, it is important for a doctor to take the following steps (when appropriate) to avoid infection in a newborn child:

  • Amniocentesis – This test is administered to a pregnant woman where amniotic fluid is tested for certain conditions, including HSV infection.
  • Chorionic villus sampling – This form of prenatal diagnostic testing determines fetal abnormalities.
  • Percutaneous blood draws – This is a blood test of a fetus while in the womb and has the purpose of diagnosing certain fetal conditions.
  • Cesarean section (c-section) – If lesions are present in the genital area of a pregnant women recently experienced an active outbreak of genital herpes, it is likely that a doctor will order a c-section to avoid vaginal transmission of HSV. A c-section does not guarantee that a child will not be infected with HSV, and he or she should be tested at birth to be sure.
  • Lesion sampling – If active lesions are present, a doctor should conduct sampling to determine if viral shedding has occurred. If no viral shedding has occurred, a vaginal delivery may still be possible.
  • Anti-viral medication – A doctor may prescribe these types of medication after 36 weeks of gestation. Studies indicate that these medications greatly reduce the recurrence rate of genital herpes as well as the necessity for a c-section.

Competent medical personnel should be able to diagnose meningitis accurately and perform timely treatments to keep mother and baby out of danger. If you or your child suffered complications from an undiagnosed or inadequately treated infection, call Stern Law, PLLC for help: (800) 462-5772. Our legal practice has more than 30 years of experience with many different types of birth injury cases.

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