Fungal meningitis is a rare and uncommon disease, which is generally as a result of spreading of a fungus to the spinal cord via blood. Anyone from the general population can get fungal meningitis, but people with compromised immune systems and those people with HIV or cancer are at an increased risk for having this disease. Cryptococcus meningitis is the most common form of meningitis found in people with compromised immune systems.
Transmission of the Disease
Fungal meningitis is in no way a contagious disease meaning it cannot be transferred from person to person. The development of this disease takes place when a fungus is introduced into the central nervous system via the bloodstream from some other part of the body. One may also get fungal meningitis due to medications which compromise or weaken the immune system of the body such as steroids or medications that given for autoimmune diseases.
Risk Factors for Fungal Meningitis
The main reason for having this disease is a compromised immune system hence people who have diseases or take medications which lower the immunity of the body or have undergone a surgical procedure are at increased risk for having this disease. Premature infants who have below normal birth weights are also at an increased risk for having this disease. There are certain areas in the USA that are prone for fungus responsible for this infection such as Midwestern and Southwestern USA.
Signs and Symptoms of Fungal Meningitis
- Elevated body temperature
- Neck stiffness
- Light sensitivity
- Mental status alteration
Diagnosis for Fungal Meningitis
If there is a suspicion of meningitis blood draws are taken and also samples of CSF are collected for testing. As the treatment for different causes for meningitis is different, the specific cause of the meningitis is vital and needs to be found, so for confirmatory diagnosis specific lab tests are performed depending on the type of fungus suspected to be involved in the disease process.
Treatment of Fungal Meningitis
Treatment of fungal meningitis involves treatment with antifungal agents for a prolonged period of time, usually in a hospital setting intravenously. The course and estimated duration of the treatment depends on the immunity condition of the individual and the type of fungus supposedly involved. Treatment is often more prolonged with people suffering from HIV, cancer, and diabetic people.
Prevention of Fungal Meningitis
To prevent oneself from fungal meningitis, areas where fungus may be present need to be avoided. Individuals with compromised immune systems or suffering from HIV should avoid dusty areas or areas that are geographically prone to fungus.