Brain Infection (cont.)
Is It Possible to Prevent a Brain Infection?
Most types of meningitis are unpredictable and cannot be prevented. There are vaccines, however, against certain types of bacteria.
- Hib vaccines are very safe and highly effective. These are a part of standard immunization for infants and children.
- A vaccine against pneumococcal meningitis can also prevent other forms of infection. It is not effective in children younger than 2 years of age but is recommended for all those older than 65 years of age and younger people with certain chronic medical conditions.
- A vaccine against meningococcal meningitis is available in the U.S. It is routinely recommended for people 11-18 years of age and for people at high risk for disease (like people with certain defects in the immune system). It is also used to control outbreaks in certain regions of the country, in overcrowded environments such as college dormitories, and as a preventive measure for travelers outside of the U.S. Information on regions for which this vaccine is recommended is available at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What Is the Prognosis of a Brain Infection?
With early diagnosis and prompt treatment, most people recover from bacterial meningitis. The recovery also depends on the person's age and condition, on how severe the illness is, and the type of invading bacteria.
- In some extreme cases, especially when the disease comes on rapidly with neurologic impairment, the disease progresses so quickly that death occurs during the first 48 hours, despite early treatment.
- Delayed complications of bacterial infections of the central nervous system could include seizure disorder, intellectual deficits, blindness, hearing impairment, and various other nervous system problems.
- Viral infections usually take a mild, short, and relatively harmless course, with complete recovery. Few very rare types of encephalitis are severe, with a possibility of permanent impairment and even death. Most other offending organisms, such as parasites and fungi, are rarely life threatening and have a very good outcome.
Andary, Michael T. "Guillain-Barre Syndrome." Feb. 12, 2016. Medscape.com. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/315632-overview>.
National Meningitis Association.
Switzerland. World Health Organization. "Meningitis." Dec. 2010.
United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Fact About Microcephaly." May 17, 2016. <http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/microcephaly.html>.
United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Meningitis Questions & Answers." Mar. 11, 2011.
United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "About Zika Virus." June 3, 2016.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/10/2016
Igor Boyarsky, DO, FACEP, FAAEM
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