Meningitis is an acute infectious disease of the meyinges. or linings covering the brain.
Cause: Any number of different organisms, such as menincococcus, streptococcus, staphylococcus, pneumococcus, tubercle bacilli, and infiuenzal and a variety of other viruses.
Incubation period: Varies depending on infecting organism.
Symptoms: These vary slightly, depending upon the causative organisms. In general, however, in young children the most striking symptoms are: severe headache, fever, and great irritability and crankiness, particularly on being touched or bothered. There may be nausea, vomiting, and usually a stiff neck is a prominent sign. Convulsions and coma are often seen. Any child who has these complaints should be hospitalized immediately, and a spinal tap performed to confirm or rule out the diagnosis. A spinal tap is a procedure in which some of the spinal fluid is withdrawn by a syringe for study of the cell count, bacterial culture, and pressure.
The symptoms of meningitis frequently resemble those of polio, therefore a physician should always be called when any of these conditions is suspected. Various antibiotics are available to treat and usually cure meningitis. There is no specific immunization for meningitis. During epidemics, however, antibiotics may be used prophylactically to prevent cases.