There are all sorts of things that can cause this nasty inflammation (swelling) of the membranes covering the brain, such as a bacterial or vial infection, injury, cancer, certain drugs, among other types of infection.
We have the Meningitis B Vaccine to protect against meningococcal group B bacteria-causing meningitis–a very nasty and potentially deadly form of meningitis. (Bacterial meningitis requires immediate medical attention.)
We also have several vaccines that can help protect from viral meningitis–an often less severe form of meningitis, however still very serious.
One of the first things you learn about in biology classes is something called a Gram stain. You have probably heard of it, and most likely knew what it was at some point in your life, but have long since forgotten.
A gram stain is a test to determine whether a bacterium or particular fungi has a thick layer of something called peptidoglycan (a structural agent) in its cell wall. Those bacteria or fungi who have this thick layer of peptidoglycan in their cell walls hold on to a violet colored dye used in the Gram stain test and are therefore called “Gram positive”. Those that do not are called “Gram negative”.
When our bodies become sick with a virus, bacteria, fungi, parasite, etc., our adaptive immune system, the one that “remembers” microbes, not only fights off the microbe but creates protective immunity against it.
Protective immunity is the body’s ability to resist a certain disease. The body’s source of protective immunity against microbes comes from the antibodies created by B cells, as well as the memories stored in the body’s specialized lymphocytes (B and T cells). By “specialized”, I mean they hold a special memory of the particular microbe the protective immunity is against. Continue reading →