Meningitis is a highly contagious disease depending on the specific form. The condition can be caused by infectious and non-infectious causes, and medical professionals should be able to identify the cause and provide proper treatment.
Meningitis causes the brain to become inflamed, which results in a decrease in blood flow to vital parts of the brain. If you or your baby suffered injury due to mishandling of meningitis during pregnancy, please call Stern Law, PLLC at (800) 462-5772 to discuss the details of your case with an experienced lawyer.
Viral infections account for most of the causes of meningitis worldwide. Accordingly, viruses that most commonly cause viral meningitis include:
- Arboviruses – Viruses transferred from animals to parasites like mosquitoes and ticks, which then transfer the virus to humans by biting them. Examples include West Nile virus, St. Louis encephalitis, and La Cross encephalitis
- Herpes simplex virus, or HSV-1 or HSV-2
- Varicella zoster virus – This is the virus that causes chicken pox and shingles
- Polio virus
- Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus – This is a rodent-borne viral infectious condition that can proliferate into encephalitis, meningitis or both
- Coxsackie A virus -This is also known as hand, foot and mouth disease
- Epstein-Barr virus – This virus causes mononucleosis
Although bacterial meningitis is less common than its viral counterpart, it can have fatal consequences if left untreated. Accordingly, here are the most common causes of bacterial meningitis:
- Streptococcus pneumonia (pneumococcus) – This is a bacteria that is the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in newborns, young children and adults in the United States. Typically, this bacteria is the leading cause of pneumonia and sinus infections.
- Neisseria meningitis – Also called meningococcus, this is a type of bacteria that is another primary cause of meningitis. This form of bacterial meningitis typically stems from an upper respiratory infection that spreads via the bloodstream and infects the brain.
- Listeria monocytogenes – Also called listeria, this form of bacteria is often found in soft types of cheeses, hot dogs and lunch meat. Although most people do not become ill from listeria exposure, it does post certain risks for pregnant women, newborns, elderly adults and people who are immunocompromised. Listeria in pregnant women can have serious and sometimes fatal results, as it can cross the placental barrier and infect an unborn child. If not immediately treated, a child can be born stillborn or die soon after birth.
- Haemophilus influenza – This type of bacteria formerly was the number one cause of meningitis in children, but new vaccinations have helped reduce the number of incidences of this cause of meningitis.
This non-contagious form of meningitis is most often caused by the genus of fungi called Cryptococcus, relatedly rare and typically limited to people with a compromised immune system. In fact, back in 2012 an outbreak of fungal meningitis was linked to the use of a certain steroid medication known as methylprednisone. This was manufactured by a single pharmacy and injected into the spines of people who were suffering from lower back pain. Fungal meningitis can be fatal if not promptly treated with antifungal medications.
This type of meningitis is caused by certain organisms that slowly invade the membranes and fluid surrounding the brain. It usually manifests within two weeks of infection and causes headaches, fever, vomiting and mental confusion in those who become infected.
Non-Infectious sources of meningitis
Although the majority of meningitis cases have viral or bacterial origins, some may result from the following sources:
- Allergies to certain types of medications
- Inflammatory diseases such as sarcoidosis, a disease that causes an inflation of the lymph nodes, lungs, liver, eyes, skin and other bodily tissues
- Chemical reactions
- Certain types of cancers
- Environmental toxins, such as heavy metals
If an expectant mother experiences any of the above symptoms, it’s crucial that she speak to a doctor immediately. For pregnant women, prompt treatment is necessary to save them and their unborn babies from the devastating effects of meningitis.
If you didn’t receive treatment for meningitis in a timely fashion and the infection harmed you or your baby, please call Stern Law, PLLC at (800) 462-5772 to discuss your case further during a free consultation.