World Meningitis Day 2019: Overview, Theme, & Significance

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World Meningitis Day is celebrated globally on 24th April.  A day dedicated to raising awareness about meningitis and underscoring the importance of prevention through vaccination. The day also aims to improve the support for those who are dealing with the potentially devastating consequences of the disease.


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What is Meningitis?


Meningitis is an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, which requires immediate treatment. It is a swelling of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. A bacterial or viral infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord usually causes the swelling. However, injuries, cancer, certain drugs, and other types of infections also can cause meningitis.


The Theme of World Meningitis 2019:


This year, the theme for World Meningitis Day is ‘Life After Meningitis’. According to the Confederation of Meningitis Organisations (CoMO), this year’s campaign focuses on the after-effects of meningitis, whether that is bereavement after losing someone to meningitis or managing a wide range of consequences #AfterMeningitis.  It can kill in 24 hours, hence, learning about the disease, recognizing the symptoms and taking early action is crucial.


What are the Causes of Meningitis?


Meningitis is a rare infection which is usually caused by a viral infection but it can also be caused by a bacterial or fungal infection. Bacterial meningitis, which is the most serious form of meningitis, is a medical emergency and can lead to permanent disability or death.


Viral meningitis tends to be less serious than bacterial meningitis, and most people with normal immune systems who get this form of meningitis recover completely without treatment.


Fungal meningitis is a rare form of the infection, people can get it by inhaling spores from the environment. It only affects people with a weakened immune system (the body’s defense against germs) due to certain medical conditions like diabetes, cancer, or HIV.


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What are the Signs and Symptoms of Meningitis?


The swelling from meningitis can trigger a range of symptoms that may develop over several hours or over a few days. Possible signs may include:


1. Sudden high fever


2. Severe, unrelenting headache


3. Stiff neck


4. Nausea or vomiting


5. Seizures


6. Confusion


7. Sleepiness


8. Decreased appetite


9. Sensitivity to bright light


10. Skin rashes


Signs in newborns include – high fever, irritability, constant crying, excessive sleepiness, poor feeding, stiffness in baby’s neck and body, a bulge in the soft spot on top of the baby’s head, etc.


Seek immediate medical help if you or someone in your family experiences any of these symptoms. Meningitis, especially bacterial meningitis is a medical emergency that can be fatal within days without prompt action. Early treatment can help to prevent some serious complications, including permanent brain damage and even death.


You should also consult your doctor if a family member or someone you work with has meningitis, because you may need to take medications to prevent the infection. Vaccinations are key when it comes to prevention, and the good thing is that there is more than one vaccine that can help prevent meningitis.


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