Two stories that came to light in the last week show just how deadly the combination of a fever, headache and stiff neck can be.
A multistate outbreak of meningitis caused by contaminated injections is the first story. So far, the CDC is reporting 105 cases of meningitis caused by a fungus in steroid shots used to control back pain. Nine people have died (eight according to the CDC and Tenessee is reporting one more death as of Monday). So far, 13,000 people received contaminated shots, although not all of them were for back pain and the CDC isn't sure what to expect in the folks who got shots in areas other than the back.
Meningitis is characterized by four symptoms and any combination of three of these is enough to send you to the ER:
- Stiff neck
- Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
There are other things that come with meningitis, but those four are the core symptoms.
For my loyal readers: I just told you about a family member who taught me a valuable lesson when his chronic back pain turned out to be meningitis. No, dear readers, he didn't get a shot, but thanks for asking.
A few weeks ago I told you about the proper use of a neti pot, which relates to the other story.
There is a wicked amoeba called Naegleria fowleri that is said to eat brains. This particular amoeba is found in water in various places, but isn't a huge problem in drinking water. It turns out that Naegleria fowleri doesn't like our gut. When we drink it, we kill it and we don't absorb it. If contaminated water comes in contact with your nasal membranes, on the other hand, you can absorb the amoeba and it will eat your brains.
Well, it might eat your brains. Actually it probably won't eat your brains, but it could and sometimes -- rarely -- it does.
In the US, contact with Naegleria fowleri used to only happen from swimming in contaminated water (my daughter absolutely hates having water up her nose and therefore will probably keep her brains at least through high school). Recently, neti pots have become a cause of contamination from the dreaded brain eating amoeba. It's easy not to get contaminated from using a neti pot by simply using distilled water in the neti pot instead of tap water.
This week a story broke about how 10 people in a Pakastani city have diead from the amoeba. That's pretty scary considering only 32 people have died from it in the US, ever.
Like meningitis, symptoms of Naegleria fowleri include headache, fever and stiff neck. Once again leading me to say a combination of symptoms that includes those warrants an immediate trip to the hospital.
|| Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter Signup ||