It caused the death of a famous English musician.. What is bacterial meningitis?

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — After contracting bacterial meningitis, English guitarist Jeff Beck died, Wednesday, at the age of 78, according to a statement posted on his official social media accounts, confirmed to CNN by his agent.

“On behalf of his family, we share with deep sadness the news of Jeff Beck’s death. After suddenly developing bacterial meningitis, he passed away peacefully yesterday. His family requests that privacy be respected while dealing with this terrible loss,” the statement read.

Within hours, death from bacterial meningitis, an infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, can occur.

The swelling usually occurs when an infection attacks the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

However, most people recover from the disease, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Control.

And the US agency stated on its website: “Those who recover may suffer permanent disabilities, such as brain damage, hearing loss, and learning difficulties.”

Symptoms of bacterial meningitis

Symptoms may resemble those of the flu or COVID-19 and include headache, fever, nausea or vomiting, brain fog, sensitivity to light, drowsiness or difficulty waking up, and a stiff neck.

According to the Cleveland Clinic: “Meningitis may be acute, with a rapid onset of symptoms, or it may be chronic, lasting a month or more, or it may be mild.”

See your doctor immediately if you or a family member has a sudden high fever, severe and persistent headache, confusion, vomiting, or a stiff neck with limited range of motion.

Newborns and infants are at greater risk than other age groups, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Signs to look for include irritability, vomiting, lethargy, poor feeding, abnormal reflexes, and a bulging soft spot on top of a baby’s head (fontanelle).

Causes of bacterial meningitis

Meningitis can be caused by a viral infection, parasitic infection, fungal infection, amoeba, drug allergy and some types of cancer.

Treatment varies depending on the cause of the meningitis, so it is important to determine the cause. Doctors do this by collecting blood samples or performing a spinal tap, and sending them to a laboratory for analysis.

Doctors treat bacterial meningitis with a number of antibiotics. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stressed the need to start treatment “as soon as possible.”

Although viral meningitis is serious, it is less deadly than bacterial/bacterial meningitis, as people with a normal immune system usually get better on their own, according to the CDC.

The viral condition of meningitis “is not generally considered contagious”, according to the UK-based media and support charity Meningitis Now.

And the Foundation explained that “viral meningitis is not transmitted to others through close contact, unlike meningococcal bacterial meningitis, so there is no need for the patient’s relatives to receive preventive treatment.”

The bacteria that cause meningitis can spread in several ways. For example, group B streptococcus bacteria and Escherichia coli may be passed from mother to child during childbirth.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that pregnant women are also at risk of infection with Listeria monocytogenes, which can lead to “miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infections of the newborn, including meningitis.”

There are some other strains of bacteria that cause bacterial meningitis: Haemophilus influenzae, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and Streptococcus pneumoniae, and they are all transmitted to others by coughing or sneezing.

A bacterium called Neisseria meningitidis is spread by sharing saliva or spit, usually when kissing, coughing, or intimate contact.

Some people can transmit the bacteria that cause meningitis, carried in their nose or body, without getting sick.

The CDC noted that people with certain medical conditions, such as HIV infection or a serious immune deficiency, those who have had their spleen removed and patients undergoing chemotherapy, are more likely to develop the disease.

Travelers to sub-Saharan Africa, where the “meningitis belt” is common from Senegal to Ethiopia, are also at increased risk of contracting the disease.

Meningitis prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends staying up to date on vaccines, which are an essential way to prevent bacterial and viral meningitis.

There are four main types of vaccines: the pneumococcal vaccine, the Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine, two meningococcal vaccines, and the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin vaccine, commonly known as BCG, which protects against tuberculosis.

The vaccine’s effectiveness can diminish over time, so it’s a good idea to check with your healthcare provider to see if you might need a booster shot.

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