Bahia reported 68 suspected cases of meningitis in 2022, of which 30 were confirmed. According to data from the State Health Department (Sesab), from January 1 to March 10 this year, 3 deaths from pneumococcal meningitis, meningitis due to other etiology and unspecified meningitis were also recorded.
Among the cases recorded in the state, bacterial and unspecified meningitis were the most common, with thirteen and ten cases each, followed by viral meningitis, with two cases. In addition, two cases of meningococcal disease were identified. Sesab, however, pointed out that to date, there is no evidence of a meningitis outbreak in Bahia.
The neurologist and professor at UniFTC, Emerson Marinho Gomes, explained in an interview with Bahia Notícias that meningitis is a disease that can be caused by bacteria, fungi or viruses in the brain, resulting in an inflammatory process that affects directly the meninges, both in the brain as for the spinal cord.
In 2021, the state had 416 reported cases of meningitis. Of these, 167 cases (40.1%) and 30 deaths (18% lethality) have been confirmed. As Sesab points out, unspecified meningitis is the cause of most reports, with 77 (46.1%); followed by bacterial meningitis, with 53 (31.7%); viral meningitis, with 27 (16.6%); and by other etiologies (fungi and parasites), 10 (6%) cases.
“The disease has practically three modes of contact: the patient can have direct contact by inoculation, by saliva or by droplets through the nose. The second is due to proximity to a structure – for example, a patient who has sinusitis and has not been treated properly. Because sinusitis is in one part of the face and is close to the brain, it can cause bacteria or fungi to move from one structure to another, which can enter the brain and cause this inflammation. Another pathway is the hematogenous pathway, which is the blood portion. When you have a generalized infection in the blood and this infection can be transported to the brain causing inflammation of the meninges”, explained the specialist.
The doctor also says that the information of a bacterial infection in the brain is news that scares the patient. However, according to Emerson, there are already several treatments available today through antibiotics, antifungals and antivirals to combat this type of infection.
“Usually patients who can be diagnosed early have better resolution. Among the patients who begin to have the complications of meningitis, 20% have a lethality. In the past, this rate was much higher,” the expert said.
Among the possible sequelae left by a case of meningitis complication, there may be memory loss, motor deficit and disorientation, in addition to problems in other organs.
As a form of prevention, the neurologist says that vaccination is the main method. “We already know that the vaccine does not exempt 100%, but it makes that even if the patient catches meningitis, the disease is milder, so that helps a lot”.
The State Department of Health reported that vaccines protecting against the major bacterial meningitis are available at public health network vaccination rooms. To verify:
• Meningococcal serogroup C: Available for children under 05: 03, 05 months and booster at 12 months.
• ACWY: Available for teenagers: 11 and 12 years old
• 10 Valente pneumococcal vaccine: available for children under 5 years old. 02, and 04 months, with reinforcement at 12 months.
• Pentavalent: Protects against Haemophilus Influenzae B, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and hepatitis B. Available for children under 1 year. (02, 04 and 06 months)
• BCG: available for neonates.