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Inicio > Meningitis in babies

Meningitis in babies

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Meningitis in babies, what it is, transmits, symptoms, treatment, vaccines

 

 

What is meningitis? *

It is an infection that affects the meninges that cover the brain producing damage in the central nervous system. They can cause death or cause neurological sequelae (deafness, paralysis, etc.).

 

What infectious agents produce meningitis in babies?

Meningitis is produced by different microorganisms: bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Among the bacteria, the most frequent are Haemophilus influenzae b, Neisseria meningitidis (Meningococcus), Streptococcus pneumoniae (Pneumococcus) and in the newborn: Streptococcus agalactiae, Listeria monocytogenes and E coli.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis can produce meningitis at any age but more frequently in young children.

Viral infections by enteroviruses are frequent in the temperate and Herpes virus affects mainly in the first year of life. The mumps virus decreased its frequency thanks to the vaccination. Fungi and parasites are very rare causes.

 

How is meningitis transmitted in babies?

Bacterial meningitis is transmitted through the respiratory tract from a sick person or from asymptomatic carriers in the nasopharynx through coughing, sneezing, kissing and also sharing utensils.

Enterovirus infections are transmitted by the respiratory and oral fecal routes.

Neonatal herpes virus is transmitted primarily at the time of birth.

 

What are the symptoms of meningitis in babies?

The symptoms are variable according to the age and can be quite non-specific, depending on the time of evolution of the disease at the time of the initial consultation and the patient’s response to the infection.

In newborns it can be started only with the presence of fever. In older patients, headache, vomiting, nuchal rigidity, hypertensive fontanelle, photophobia, sensorineural depression and seizures may occur depending on the time of evolution. Skin lesions (petechiae) may occur in some meningitis.

Early consultation and early diagnosis are the fundamental tools for healing without sequelae and prevent its spread.

 

What is the treatment of meningitis in babies?

Treatment of bacterial meningitis is done with antibiotics. Herpes virus meningitis is treated with specific antivirals.

It is important that in the face of the onset of signs or symptoms the consultation should be performed as soon as possible since the response to treatment is related to the promptness in making the diagnosis and the beginning of the same.

Does having meningitis make a person immune?

With the exception of meningitis due to mumps virus that leaves permanent immunity, the rest of the meningitis given the diversity of microorganisms and the different serotypes can be repeated.

How can meningitis be prevented in babies?

The prevention of meningitis is done through specific immunization from the first months of life. Other less specific measures are equally important, such as frequent handwashing to avoid exposure to infectious agents especially before eating and after being in public places. Overcrowding should also be avoided, favoring the ventilation of public spaces, classrooms and day care centers.

Vaccines against meningitis

  • BCG vaccine (tuberculous meningitis).
  • Haemophilus influenzae b vaccine protects against four H influenzae B serotypes. It is listed free of charge in the national immunization schedule since 1998 and is included in a five-fold vaccine together with diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and hepatitis B a From two months of life in a three-dose regimen and booster. To achieve protection it is important to comply with the complete age scheme.
  • Vaccine against S pneumoniae (Pneumococcus): Protects against thirteen pneumococcal serotypes. It is found free of charge in the national calendar of immunizations since 2012 from the two months of life in a scheme of two doses and reinforcement. Two doses are used in children between 12 months and two years.
  • Mumps vaccine: Protects against mumps virus. It is available free of charge in the national immunization calendar integrated in the triple viral vaccine (Measles, Rubella, Mumps). The first dose is indicated at 12 months of age and reinforcement at 6 years.
    Vaccines against N meningitidis (Meningococcus): There are vaccines against different serotypes.
  • Conjugate vaccine against meningococcus C, from two months of life and in a scheme of two doses and reinforcement.
  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine A, C, W135, Y. After 9 months and with two-dose regimens before two years of life and after this age a single dose.
  • Polysaccharide vaccines, (AC, B, ACW135, Y): Useful after two years of life. The protection of polysaccharide vaccines is a few years and are used in case of epidemic outbreaks or in patients with greater susceptibility to meningococcal disease.
  • Vaccines against Neisseria meningitidis are only available free of charge in the national immunization calendar for special guest or outbreak situations. Talk to your pediatrician about the best way to prevent meningitis.

* Taken from the Argentine Society of Pediatrics.

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