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Meningitis: Latest Medical Breakthroughs

Tuesday, 08 Mar 2011 12:51 PM

Meningitis, an infection caused by a virus or bacteria, causes inflammation of the protective covering of the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting, and muscle stiffness in the neck. Advanced meningitis symptoms include fever, confusion, and intolerance to loud noise or light.

In children, meningitis symptoms include drowsiness, constant crying, and irritability. The condition can be severe, causing swelling of the brain tissue, seizures, uncontrolled behavior, loss of consciousness, reduced blood pressure, and increased heart rate.
While vaccines exist for certain viruses that cause meningitis, recent medical breakthroughs for the treatment of meningitis include:
1. A fasting test to detect meningitis has been developed. While traditional testing methods require a day or two to determine results, this test is a simple blood and urine test that uses special equipment and provides results immediately. This test was developed by researchers at Queen’s University and the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust of Belfast, Ireland.
2. A University of Leicester researcher has discovered a vital protein in blood that helps fight meningitis. This discovery may lead to the formulation of new medical treatments.
3. The University of Nottingham has discovered the mechanism adapted by meningococcal bacteria that harms the immune system and attacks the brain. This is helpful for preventive care, formulation of new medications, and in the development of more effective vaccines.
4. Advanced research has indicated that the vaccines Flu Mist and Manectra are effective for children ages two to 10. These drugs have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
5. Additional research by Imperial College London and the Genome Institute of Singapore has found that people who develop meningitis symptoms have genetic differences that indicate the inability to use natural defenses to fight meningococcal bacteria efficiently and successfully. This study may help determine who is prone to developing meningitis symptoms and how they can take preventive measures.

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