Pneumococcal meningitis is a perilous infection that targets three membranes called meninges that cover and protect the spinal cord and the brain. The layers of meninges include the pia mater (inner layer), the arachnoid (middle layer) loaded with fluid, and a tough layer called the dura mater (outer layer). Along with the cerebrospinal fluid (CFS) functioning as a cushion, other layers contribute to overall protection for the central nervous system or CNS. Most common among children and very old individuals, pneumococcal meningitis is responsible for more than 50% of bacterial meningitis throughout the U.S. According to the data at hand, approximately 22% and 8% of infected adults and children, respectively, die out of pneumococcal meningitis. Nevertheless, receiving the necessary doses of PCV vaccination at the proper time can considerably decrease the risk of pneumococcal meningitis. Read on to learn about other types of meningitis, the symptoms, the PCV vaccine, and more.
Types of Meningitis
On the whole, there are six different types of meningitis, including parasitic, bacterial, fungal, amebic, fungal, and non-infectious. Each type of meningitis can be highly detrimental and impose severe short-or-long-term damage upon your body. To begin with, viral meningitis is the most prevalent and is caused by viruses, most commonly non-polio enteroviruses. Unlike its prevalence, viral meningitis brings on less severe consequences. Following a similar ratio yet in the opposite direction, bacterial meningitis is comparatively rare but appears much more fatal than the others. Bacterial meningitis can be the offshoot of several bacteria. They include Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, Neisseria meningitidis, and listeria monocytogenes.
Pneumococcal meningitis is categorized under this type and is caused by streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria (aka S pneumoniae or pneumococcus). This bacterium is the leading cause of several diseases, including pneumococcal pneumonia, sepsis, blood infection, sinus infection, middle ear infection, and pneumococcal meningitis. Pneumococcus is not usually threatening when it is not in close proximity to the meninges, as around 40% of people are estimated to bear dormant streptococcus pneumoniae in their throat or nose in the first year of life. That said, pneumococcal bacteria can begin sabotage in some situations. One way of getting infected is the direct invasion of the pneumococcal bacteria through a skull fracture or when a sinus or ear infection occurs. Moreover, this bacterium can find its way to the brain and the spinal cord through the bloodstream. This can take place via the transmission of pneumococcal meningitis from an infected person; anything with a trace of the contaminated droplets, such as a fork, a cup, a cigarette, or even lipstick, can be a means of transmission. That is why sticking with health and safety protocols with an infected person nearby is a must-do.
Pneumococcal Meningitis Symptoms
The symptoms of pneumococcal meningitis are usually expected to appear within the first three days after the infection, though it might vary from one person to another. These symptoms include severe headache, sudden high fever, stiff neck, chest pain, coughs, pain on moving neck, vomiting, rapid breathing, weakness, chills, and irritability. Additionally, you might be engaged with more symptoms, like joint pain, sleeplessness, and increased sensitivity to light. Also, infants and newborns may suffer from specific symptoms, like not waking to eat, constant crying, poor feeding, and a bulge in fontanels (soft parts on top of a newborn baby’s skull). Since pneumococcal meningitis is seriously contagious and can bring on irretrievable consequences for the infected, it is strongly recommended to visit a doctor in case one or more of these symptoms pop up. Pneumococcal meningitis is generally diagnosed by examining a cerebrospinal fluid or blood sample. On top of that, several symptoms, such as a stiff neck, a fast heart rate, and fever, can be valuable hints for recognizing a pneumococcal meningitis infection.
Treatments for Pneumococcal Meningitis
Aside from the previously mentioned symptoms, it is possible for pneumococcal meningitis to cause severe long-term brain damage and other complications that could remain with you. That is why a full recovery may not come about for everyone infected if not treated immediately. These long-term effects include hearing loss, stroke, developmental delay, movement or balance problems, paralysis, learning disabilities, and problems with memory and concentration. Since the impact of pneumococcal meningitis can linger around longer than usual or even lead to death in extreme cases, it is vital to get admitted to the hospital and take on medications urgently. Several antibiotics that can be helpful include namely ceftriaxone, ampicillin, penicillin, vancomycin, benzylpenicillin, chloramphenicol, and cefotaxime.
Pneumococcal Meningitis Prevention
Despite the brutality of pneumococcal meningitis, certain practices can go a long way in preventing any infection. Keeping up overall good hygiene by simply washing hands or not sharing things like toothbrushes or straws can be beneficial. Besides, a healthy diet stuffed with whole grains, vegetables, and fresh fruits, along with regular exercise and enough rest, can cultivate further immunity. Pregnant people should also be more careful with their diet and avoid cheese made from unpasteurized milk or partially cooked meat. As for many other diseases, however, vaccination is the most assuring way to build up protection against pneumococcal meningitis. For that matter, two primary vaccines are available for such infection: pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23).
To begin with the first type, there are three variants of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines, namely PCV13, PCV15, and PCV20. PCV13 is considered the most common type for infants and children up to 6 years of age. Four doses of PCV13 are required at intervals to ensure up-to-snuff protection against pneumococcal infections. Furthermore, the other two options are best recommended for adults, and a single dose is often sufficient. On the other hand, PPSV23 is best advised for people two years or older who are coping with certain conditions that increase the risk of pneumococcal infections. You can consult your healthcare provider in order to find out which is the most compatible type of PCV vaccine for you.
PCV Vaccination Pricing
Although the pricing depends on the type of vaccine and the brand name, a PCV vaccine costs between $150-173 as the CDC cost and $216-249 as the private sector cost. Although the necessity of the PCV vaccine cannot be undermined, these price tags might only be affordable for some of the population in developing countries. That, however, does not mean an unbridled expansion of pneumococcal meningitis infection. Offering similar functions, biosimilars have now made it to the market as economical alternatives, thanks to recent medical advancements. Although the field is relatively brand new, the competition is fierce, with many pharmaceutical companies investing a lot in biosimilars. For instance, Opal Biopharma (OBP) is one of the leading companies in this niche. Based in Oman, Opal Biopharma utilizes leading-edge technologies and aspires to manufacture top-quality biosimilar products, including a PCV biosimilar vaccine.
Who Should Consider PCV Vaccine?
Several risk factors can add up to the infection’s chance and severity. Since pneumococcal meningitis can bring on long-term complications or lead to death, it is crucial to know about eligible people to get PCV vaccination. Aside from the age groups mentioned above, people with chronic heart disease, diabetes, liver diseases, recent upper respiratory infection, kidney disease, recent pneumonia, or ear infection with S pneumoniae are highly prone to get afflicted with pneumococcal meningitis. Alcoholics, smokers, and those prone to secondhand smoke are also recommended to get PCV vaccination. On top of that, any infection of a heart valve with the same S pneumoniae or previous meningitis on your medical records are enough reasons to receive PCV vaccination as soon as possible. Moreover, anyone with a non-functioning spleen or who has had a spleen removal should keep a clean lifestyle and guarantee a great extent of immunity via vaccination.
Meningitis is a threatening disease that affects the membranes and CFS surrounding the spinal cord and the brain. It has six types and comes with a bunch of severe side effects, like fever, stiff neck, chills, and vomiting. Pneumococcal meningitis can afflict everyone, but younger children and newborns, along with elderly people, are at a higher risk. Moreover, some risk factors, such as diabetes, recent lung infection, and chronic and kidney heart diseases, can raise the risk of infection. Though treatment with antibiotics is available, the damage of pneumococcal meningitis may remain. Because of that, the optimal way is to hold pneumococcal meningitis off by getting PCV vaccination along with a wholesome life encompassing a healthy diet and other factors that contribute to a more robust immune system. Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23) and pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13,15,20) are two available PCV vaccines, alongside biosimilar versions that provide similar functions but at a far lower cost.