• Monday, January 30, 2023

HEALTH

Legendary guitarist Jeff Beck dies due to bacterial meningitis – Know all about this life-threatening illness

By: Kimberly Rodrigues

Legendary rock guitarist Jeff Beck, ‘suddenly’ died this week at the age of 78. Taking to Instagram, his team wrote, “On behalf of his family, it is with deep and profound sadness that we share the news of Jeff Beck’s passing.”

According to their statement, his team revealed that he passed away “after suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis. His family ask for privacy while they process this tremendous loss,” the post read.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) informs that bacterial meningitis which is an inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord can be fatal within hours of contracting it.

The CDC also notes on its website that, “Those who do recover can have permanent disabilities, such as brain damage, hearing loss, and learning disabilities.”

Symptoms

People who contract the illness can experience flu-like or Covid-19 symptoms. These include fever, a headache, nausea or vomiting, sensitivity to light, brain fog, stiff neck, sleepiness or trouble waking.

Cleveland Clinic states, “Meningitis can be acute, with a quick onset of symptoms, it can be chronic, lasting a month or more, or it can be mild or aseptic.”

Risk factors

Speaking about those who are at risk of contracting this disease, Dr Monalisa Sahu, Consultant, Infectious Diseases, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad, India, told The Indian Express that infants and the elderly are most at risk, along with those individuals with chronic medical conditions like renal failure, immunosuppressed patients like transplant recipients, and congenital immunodeficiencies.

There is also an increased risk of bacterial meningitis for those on long-term steroids, under-vaccinated individuals, those who drink alcohol excessively, etc.

Additionally, the CDC states that those with certain medical conditions, such as HIV infection or serious immune deficiency, and those who don’t have a spleen and chemotherapy patients, are more likely to contract the disease.

Causes

A report by CNN explains that a number of bacteria can cause meningitis, as can viruses, parasites, fungi, amoeba.

However, according to Meningitis Now, an information and support charity based in the UK, a viral case of meningitis is “not generally considered to be contagious.”

The charity states, “Viral meningitis is not passed on to others by being in close contact — unlike the meningococcal form of bacterial meningitis — so no preventive treatment is needed for relatives.”

Some injuries can also reportedly cause this illness, in addition to drugs, and conditions like lupus or cancer.

The CDC informs that the types of bacteria that cause meningitis can be spread in a number of ways.

Group B Streptococcus and E. coli bacteria can be passed from mother to child during birth.

Several other bacteria that cause this illness — Haemophilus influenzae, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and Streptococcus pneumoniae are passed on to others by coughing or sneezing.

Bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis spread by sharing saliva typically, when people kiss, through coughing, or living in close contact.

However, not everyone who spreads the bacteria that causes meningitis gets ill.

“These people are ‘carriers.’ Most carriers never become sick, but can still spread the bacteria to others,” the CDC notes.

Treatment

The CDC states that “Doctors treat bacterial meningitis with a number of antibiotics. It is important to start treatment as soon as possible.”

Dr Monalisa explains that in all cases of this illness, appropriate antibiotics are required, and mostly for a duration of 3-6 weeks whereby supportive care is critical.

She is quoted as saying, “Supportive care includes managing the airway, maintaining oxygenation, giving sufficient intravenous fluids while providing fever control are parts of the foundation of meningitis management.”

Dr Sujit Kumar, Senior Consultant Neurologist, and Epileptologist, Apollo Hospitals, Bangalore, Indian adds, “Treatment comprises a combination of antibiotics depending on the organism suspected. Corticosteroids are also given to reduce complications due to inflammation. Usually, a CSF (Cerebro Spinal Fluid) analysis is done to determine the severity of the infection and identify the bacterium or virus responsible for meningitis.”

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