Meningitis: Symptoms and Prevention

Ways you can prevent yourself and your family from meningitis and what symptoms to look out for.
meningitis symptoms and prevention

About three weeks ago, Cerebro Spinal Meningitis (CSM), a disease defined as an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord, broke out in Nigeria, beginning with Sokoto and Zamfara states. The disease has spread to other 14 states making it a total of 16 states being ravaged by the deadly disease in Nigeria. The other 14 states are Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Nassarawa, Jigawa, Federal Capital Territory Abuja, Gombe, Taraba, Yobe, Kano, Osun, Cross River, Lagos and Plateau. The federal ministry of health said 90 local government councils with an estimated 2524 people are currently battling the disease while 328 people are recorded dead.

 Close contact - not casual contact at work or school - can spread the bacteria and viruses that cause meningitis. This includes kissing, coughing or sneezing. Sharing eating utensils, glasses, food, or towels can also spread these bacteria and viruses.

Now what are the symptoms of this diseases and how can we prevent ourselves and children from being infected?

Symptoms of meningitis


Meningitis is not always easy to recognise. In many cases, meningitis may be progressing with no symptoms at all. In its early stages, symptoms might be similar to those of flu. However, people with meningitis can become seriously ill within hours, so it is important to know the signs and symptoms. Early symptoms of meningitis broadly include:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Muscle pain
  • High temperature (fever)
  • Headache
  • Cold hands and feet
  • A rash that does not fade under pressure. This rash might start as a few small spots in any part of the body - it may spread rapidly and look like fresh bruises. This happens because blood has leaked into the tissue under the skin. The rash or spots may initially fade and then come back.
  • Neck stiffness and pain that makes it difficult to touch your chin to your chest  
  • Confusion, difficulty concentrating and disorientation 
  • Drowsiness or sluggishness
  • Sensitivity to bright light 
  • Poor appetite 
  • Sleepiness
  • More severe symptoms include seizure and coma 

In babies, you should look out for at least one of the following symptoms:

  • a high-pitched, moaning cry
  • a bulging fontenelle
  • being difficult to wake
  • floppy and listless or stiff with jerky movements
  • refusing feeds
  • rapid/ unusual/ difficult breathing
  • pale or blotchy skin
  • red or purple spots that do not fade under pressure

In older children, you should look out for:

  • a stiff neck
  • severe pains and aches in your back and joints
  • sleepiness or confusion
  • a very bad headache (alone, not a reason to seek medical help)
  • a dislike of bright lights
  • very cold hands and feet
  • shivering
  • rapid breathing
  • red or purple spots that do not fade under pressure

Seek immediate medical attention if you experience these symptoms. Bacterial meningitis can be deadly. 

These complications are typically associated with meningitis:

  • seizures
  • hearing loss
  • brain damage
  • hydrocephalus
  • a subdural effusion, or a buildup of fluid between the brain and the skull

There are four vaccines available to prevent bacterial meningitis. Visit your doctor to get more information on these vaccines.

The doctor may also suggest other steps prevent meningitis

  • Antibiotics if you've come into close contact with someone who has had some kinds of bacterial meningitis
  • Other vaccines
  • Good hygiene, such as regular hand washing.
  • Not sharing food, drinks, or utensils

You should be very careful and take this very serious. If you notice anything out of sort, please pay a visit to your doctor immediately.

Jemimah Abimbola Posts

I am passionate about writing, I love to read and am also a big foodie.