Today we’ll talk about Fungal Meningitis.
Fungal meningitis is rare and usually the result of spread of a fungus through blood to the spinal cord. Although anyone can get fungal meningitis, people with weak immune systems, like those with AIDS or cancer, are at higher risk.
The most common cause of fungal meningitis for people with weak immune systems is Cryptococcus. This disease is one of the most common causes of adult meningitis in Africa.
Signs & Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of fungal meningitis may include the following:
- Stiff neck
- Nausea and vomiting
- Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
- Altered mental status
If meningitis is suspected, samples of blood or cerebrospinal fluid (near the spinal cord) are collected and sent to a laboratory for testing. Knowing the specific cause of meningitis is important because the severity of illness and the treatment will differ depending on the cause.
To confirm fungal meningitis, specific lab tests can be performed, depending on the type of fungus suspected.
Fungal meningitis is treated with long courses of high dose antifungal medications, usually given through an IV line in the hospital. The length of treatment depends on the status of the immune system and the type of fungus that caused the infection. For people with immune systems that do not function well because of other conditions, like AIDS, diabetes, or cancer, treatment is often longer.
No specific activities are known to cause fungal meningitis. Avoid soil and other environments that are likely to contain fungus. People with weak immune systems (for example, those with HIV infection) should try to avoid bird droppings and avoid digging and dusty activities, particularly if they live in a geographic region where fungi like Histoplasma, Coccidioides, or Blastomyces species exist. HIV-infected people cannot completely avoid exposure.
Fungal meningitis is not contagious, which means it is not transmitted from person to person. Fungal meningitis can develop after a fungus spreads through the bloodstream from somewhere else in the body, as a result of the fungus being introduced directly into the central nervous system, or from an infected body site infection next to the central nervous system.