Meningitis is a serious disease that can cause long-term side effects and even potentially prove fatal. Bacterial meningitis droplet precautions, such as wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and isolating those with the disease, can reduce the spread of this disease from person to person.
Since the 1990s, the rates of meningococcal disease have declined in the United States and remained low.
According to the
Droplet precautions, such as isolation, can help prevent the spread of meningitis.
Keep reading to learn more about different types of meningitis and what steps to take to reduce transmission.
In meningitis, a pathogen
This infection can lead to varying symptoms or long-term debilitating effects. Symptoms may come on suddenly and are usually much worse than those of viral meningitis.
Some of the most recognizable symptoms of meningitis are:
- an extreme headache
- neck stiffness
- a high fever
- sensitivity to light
Bacterial meningitis is a condition that requires immediate treatment.
Anyone who experiences these or other symptoms of meningitis needs immediate medical attention.
Several others types of bacteria can cause meningitis.
Pneumococcal meningitis most often affects babies and young children under 18 months of age. A type of bacteria called Streptococcus pneumonia causes this form of the condition.
Individuals will receive antibiotic treatment, and some of the most frequent prescription antibiotics for pneumococcal meningitis include ampicillin and cefotaxime.
This form of meningitis can cause long-term effects in up to 25% of people who recover. Prompt treatment in a hospital setting is necessary for individuals with this disease.
The Neisseria meningitidis bacterium causes this form of meningitis. It most often affects infants, young children, and young adults. This disease can cause swelling of the meninges and blood poisoning, or septicemia.
Some common complications that have associations with the meningococcal disease include:
- loss of hearing
- limb amputation
- brain damage
- loss of kidney function
Rapid hospital admission and antibiotic treatment can reduce the risk of death and severe side effects.
Bacterial meningitis often spreads through droplets from the mouth or nose. Therefore, it is crucial for healthcare professionals to take precautions to prevent the spread of these droplets.
- wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face masks
- removing all PPE when leaving a patient’s room
- hand hygiene after removing PPE
- handling any contaminated items with precaution
- avoiding the reuse of face masks
The CDC notes that medical professionals should follow these precautions for the
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, doctors should treat people with meningitis in private rooms. If private rooms are not available, curtains should separate patients. Doctors traditionally define the area of infectious risk as a distance of 1 m (3 feet), so they will space beds according to this measurement.
- goggles to protect the eyes
- face shields
- wearing masks and face shields simultaneously
Individuals who come into contact with people with meningitis should follow all droplet precautions. They should also practice proper hygiene by washing their hands regularly and avoiding reusing face masks or other disposable PPE.
Taking the right droplet precautions is crucial for protecting healthcare workers. These precautions can also prevent the spread of meningitis to friends or family members.
One of the most important parts of bacterial meningitis treatment is time, as delaying antibiotic treatment can increase the mortality rate. Doctors should treat anyone showing signs of bacterial meningitis.
Adults with meningitis may also experience certain brain complications. These can include:
- hearing damage
- reduced mental acuity
- neurological damage
- avoiding smoking
- getting plenty of rest
- avoiding close contact with people who are sick
- washing hands often with soap and water — use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
- covering mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing — use the upper sleeve or elbow if tissue is not available
A person who smokes is more likely to carry the meningococcal bacteria in their throat, so stopping smoking may be another way to reduce the spread of this infection.
Some viruses and bacteria that cause meningitis are also present in saliva. With this in mind, doctors advise not to share drink bottles, glasses, or cups.
These habits are especially important for people at increased risk for disease. Risk factors include age and if a person has a weakened immune system.
Parents or caregivers of young children, teenagers, or young adults may consider meningitis vaccination. Those interested in learning more about preventing meningitis should speak with their doctor.
This infection may also result from viruses, fungus, or parasites.
Viral meningitis occurs most often in infants, young children, and people with compromised immune systems. This form of meningitis is the most
Some of the viruses that may cause meningitis include:
- the mumps virus
Most people with mild viral meningitis will usually recover without treatment within 7–10 days. Antiviral medication may help meningitis if a herpes virus or influenza has caused the infection.
Individuals who develop severe illness or are at risk for developing severe illness may need care in a hospital.
Although bacterial meningitis is not common in the U.S., this condition can cause serious health consequences and, in some cases, death.
Bacterial meningitis droplet precautions can help reduce disease transmission. Wearing PPE and keeping patients in individual rooms can help prevent the spread of this disease.
Anyone with bacterial meningitis requires immediate treatment at the hospital. Early treatment can prevent long-term health effects and increase the likelihood of a full recovery.