What Is Staphylococcal Meningitis?
Staphylococcal meningitis, SM, is a bacterial infection
affecting the meninges, the protective covering around your spinal cord and
brain. The condition is rare and can be fatal. SM is defined as either hospital-
or community-acquired. Both infections are dangerous. The only difference is
where they were obtained. When Staphylococcal meningitis is caused by Staphylococcal aureus or Staphylococcal epidermidis bacteria, it is usually from
a surgical procedure.
Early symptoms of SM are vague. They may not be taken
seriously because they resemble a cold or flu. The symptoms grow more serious
as the infection worsens. Diagnosis requires finding S. aureus or S.
epidermidis bacteria in your body. Your doctor may also do blood tests and
take imaging scans of your brain to aid in diagnosis.
Treatment is difficult because the condition is rare, and
doctors don’t see it much. Many patients are given the wrong antibiotics upon arrival
at the hospital. Even with correct antibiotics, the risk of death is very high.
People with underlying chronic conditions have a higher risk of mortality.
Symptoms of Staphylococcal Meningitis
Because the symptoms of SM are common to many other
diseases, it can be difficult to diagnose. Common symptoms of SM include a fever,
a headache, and vomiting.
Less common symptoms include shock, very low blood pressure,
and decreased consciousness.
Causes of Staphylococcal Meningitis
There are two ways a person can contract Staphylococcal
meningitis. Hospital-acquired transmission means that you got the infection
while being treated at a hospital or nursing home. Community-acquired means you
got the infection outside of a hospital or healthcare setting. Both infections
are treated the same way.
Once you get the infection, germs cross the blood-brain
barrier to infect the brain. Once inside the brain, the bacteria infect the
Risk Factors for Staphylococcal Meningitis
It’s very important to know the risk factors for SM. These
of inflammation of your organs
as periods of high blood sugar may cause a problem in your blood-brain
barrier, making it easier for bacteria to enter your brain
of hospital stays and surgical procedures
Diagnosing Staphylococcal Meningitis
Diagnosis is based on clinical tests of positive cultures
for the germs that cause the disease. It is necessary to determine which
specific type of germ is causing the meningitis in order to treat it properly. The
most common causes of meningitis are viruses and bacteria, such as:
- Streptococcus pneumonia
- Neisseria meningitides
- Haemophilus influenza
- Listeria monocytogenes
In order to correctly identify the type of germ causing your
meningitis, your doctor will usually perform the following tests:
culture, when bacteria are swabbed from your nose or throat and left to
grow on a culture plate in order to identify the type of bacteria present
resonance imaging, MRI, to look for signs of inflammation in the brain
puncture, also called a spinal tap, to look for signs of infection in the
blood count, CBC, to look for signs of infection in your blood
Treatment for Staphylococcal Meningitis
Treatment with the correct antibiotics must be given
quickly. Blood cultures should let doctors know which medications to prescribe.
Most are given intravenously to reach the infection as quickly as possible.
Correct antibiotics to treat SM include:
The following antibiotics should not be prescribed:
Treatment for worsening cases of SM may include mechanical
ventilation by mask or throat tube to give your brain more oxygen. Also,
dialysis may be used because your kidneys may begin to shut down.
Outlook for People with Staphylococcal Meningitis
SM has a very high mortality rate. Many patients receive the
wrong antibiotics upon hospital arrival. The rarity of the disease and the
difficulty in diagnosing it means that physicians do not always suspect its
Even with proper antibiotics, the condition is affecting the
most sensitive organ in the body, your brain. Survivors have a high chance of
suffering permanent brain damage.
People with underlying conditions such as diabetes and heart
disease have a much higher risk of mortality.
Prevention of Staphylococcal Meningitis
Prevention aims at practicing good hygiene habits like
washing your hands and covering your mouth when you cough, to stop the spread
of the bacteria. Maintaining a healthy and strong immune system will also help
your body fight any potentially harmful bacteria. You may also take antibiotics
if you have come into contact with someone with SM, and vaccination may also be