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Bacterial Meningitis: Pathogenesis, Assessment Findings, And Treatments

1515 words - 6 pages

Meningitis is described as the infection/inflammation of the meninges, which is the layer that covers the brain and the spinal cord in the central nervous system (“What is Meningitis?” n.d.). Several types of meningitis can occur. Of these are bacterial, fungal, viral, parasitic, or toxic (Huether, McCance, 2008). Most people who contract viral meningitis are said to make a full recovery and fungal meningitis generally occurs in people with an impaired immune system (“What is Meningitis?” n.d.). Bacterial meningitis mainly occurs within the pia mater and arachnoid, subarachnoid space, the ventricular system of the brain and in the cerebrospinal fluid (textbook). In particular, bacterial meningitis can be caused by a large number of various bacteria. The most common bacterial agents that cause meningitis include Neisseria meningitides, group B Streptococcus, Haemophilus influenzae type b, and Streptococcus pneumoniae (Watkins, 2009). Bacterial meningitis is arguably one of the most dangerous infections that infants and children, in particular, may be exposed to (Huether et al., 2008). Sadly, it is most common in infants and it generally affects more males than females (Huether et al., 2008).
Pathogenesis
Bacterial meningitis is a complex infection and the pathogenesis of it is extremely fascinating. The bacterial agents that cause bacterial meningitis are spread through droplets from the upper respiratory tract (Watkins, 2009). This is important to take into consideration because some infections may be contracted through skin contact or through bodily secretions, but bacterial meningitis is through respiratory droplets. This is significant. It is also important to know that the incubation period of bacterial meningitis is anywhere between 2 and 7 days (Watkins, 2009). This does not seem like a long time and a lot can occur within those 2 to 7 days. The route by which the bacterial agents make their way to the subarachnoid space of the meninges, surrounding the brain and spinal cord, is by a systemic/bloodstream infection or a direct extension from the upper respiratory tract (Huether et al., 2008). The subarachnoid space of the meninges is then where these bacterial agents settle. The blood brain barrier surrounding the brain is meant to prevent potentially harmful substances in the blood from entering the cerebrospinal fluid in the brain (Huether et al., 2008). Astrocytes are the neuroglia that form the blood brain barrier and the tight junctions within the blood brain barrier (Huether et al., 2008). The blood brain barrier is another form of protection that the meningeal bacterium breaks through. The replication and the breaking down of the bacteria within the subarachnoid space of the brain is what leads to the release of the bacterial virulence components, causing an inflammatory response (Nudelman & Tunkel, 2009). Neutrophils are called upon and sent to the subarachnoid space in large numbers (Huether et al., 2008). ...

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