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Learning objectives

  • Identify the most common bacteria that can cause infections of the nervous system
  • Compare the major characteristics of specific bacterial diseases affecting the nervous system

Bacterial infections that affect the nervous system are serious and can be life-threatening. Fortunately, there are only a few bacterial species commonly associated with neurological infections.

Bacterial meningitis

Bacterial meningitis is one of the most serious forms of meningitis. Bacteria that cause meningitis often gain access to the CNS through the bloodstream after trauma or as a result of the action of bacterial toxins. Bacteria may also spread from structures in the upper respiratory tract, such as the oropharynx, nasopharynx, sinuses, and middle ear. Patients with head wounds or cochlear implants (an electronic device placed in the inner ear) are also at risk for developing meningitis.

Many of the bacteria that can cause meningitis are commonly found in healthy people. The most common causes of non-neonatal bacterial meningitis are Neisseria meningitidis , Streptococcus pneumoniae , and Haemophilus influenzae . All three of these bacterial pathogens are spread from person to person by respiratory secretions. Each can colonize and cross through the mucous membranes of the oropharynx and nasopharynx, and enter the blood. Once in the blood, these pathogens can disseminate throughout the body and are capable of both establishing an infection and triggering inflammation in any body site, including the meninges ( [link] ). Without appropriate systemic antibacterial therapy, the case-fatality rate can be as high as 70%, and 20% of those survivors may be left with irreversible nerve damage or tissue destruction, resulting in hearing loss, neurologic disability, or loss of a limb. Mortality rates are much lower (as low as 15%) in populations where appropriate therapeutic drugs and preventive vaccines are available. Thigpen, Michael C., Cynthia G. Whitney, Nancy E. Messonnier, Elizabeth R. Zell, Ruth Lynfield, James L. Hadler, Lee H. Harrison et al., “Bacterial Meningitis in the United States, 1998–2007,” New England Journal of Medicine 364, no. 21 (2011): 2016-25.

a) Photo of brain. B) Photo of think layer on top of brain being pulled back by forceps.
(a) A normal human brain removed during an autopsy. (b) The brain of a patient who died from bacterial meningitis. Note the pus under the dura mater (being retracted by the forceps) and the red hemorrhagic foci on the meninges. (credit b: modification of work by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

A variety of other bacteria, including Listeria monocytogenes and Escherichia coli , are also capable of causing meningitis. These bacteria cause infections of the arachnoid mater and CSF after spreading through the circulation in blood or by spreading from an infection of the sinuses or nasopharynx. Streptococcus agalactiae , commonly found in the microbiota of the vagina and gastrointestinal tract, can also cause bacterial meningitis in newborns after transmission from the mother either before or during birth.

The profound inflammation caused by these microbes can result in early symptoms that include severe headache, fever, confusion, nausea, vomiting, photophobia, and stiff neck. Systemic inflammatory responses associated with some types of bacterial meningitis can lead to hemorrhaging and purpuric lesions on skin, followed by even more severe conditions that include shock, convulsions, coma, and death—in some cases, in the span of just a few hours.

Questions & Answers

What is microbiology
Victoria Reply
is the study of microorganism that cannot be viewed by our normal eyes
ASIFIWE
please what is the topic today.
Anafure Reply
I hope u are doing good
Anafure
Yes ooo u
Daniel
Victoria
Victoria
Yes
Victoria
what is immunoglobulin specifications
hop Reply
what if she is having stomach pain ND also running temprature
Samuel Reply
i wante to study medicine in university so how i should prepare my self
Lissa Reply
yea I also want to study pls hw Will I prepare myself
Shifau
first you have to prepare yourself in biology physics and chemistry
Mushahid
microorganism functions
NUHU Reply
what are the functions of microoganism
Victoria
Maintains the functions of body parts e.g Normal floras of the vagina
Nantongo
definition of cell
Shifau
how does the helicobacteri pylori affect the stomach walls?
Erick Reply
hi
Allan
Hlo
SUMIT
hi
Umar
hi
Umar
when the stomach is been affected with helicobacteria what are the preventive measure to be considered to ensure specific outcome?
Umar
yeah
Ayan
proper alimentation( feed properly),avoid eating lot of pepper but the main point is nutrition if you feed well the bacteria won't cause digestion of the stomach wall and thus you will be fine
Nanjoh
what is microbiology
vijay Reply
microbiology is the scientific study of microorganisms .microorganisms are those organisms that are too small to see with the naked eye ex-bacteria fungi
Yashkin
a branch of biological science concerned with organisms that can not be observed with a naked eye
Mooya
what are the types of granulocytes and explain
lord
polymorpho nuclear leukocyte, known as granulocyte are divide into three,1-polymorpho eosinophil 2-polymorpho basophil 3-polymorpho neutrophil
Musa
microbiology is scientific study of microorganism which can nt be seen by naked eye,for example bacteria,viruses, protozoa ad fungi.
Emma
microbiology is the scientific study of microorganisms
Atia
good
Samuel
microbiology is the study of micro organisms by the use of microscope to know how they react and respire to it environments
Daniel
microbiology is a branch of science which studies microbe
Ivy
microbiology is the study of microoganism
paul
microbiology is the study of tiny organisms which are difficult to be seen by naked eyes
hop
I want to know more about sample collection on the field
Ama Reply
blood collection and urinarysis
Lizzy
2143
Lizzy
yes
Lizzy
In the periodic table the number on the upper left hand side is what
Aurelia Reply
Hydrogen
Tob
am not talking about the elements
Aurelia
Is it the atomic number or the mass number
Aurelia
hologen
Usman
differences between acid fast and non acid fast bacilli
ANTHONY Reply
acid fast have cell wall that holds to carbol fuschin stain while non acid fast doesn't have. it readily releases out the primary stain the carbol fuschin.
LAFIA
where do I post a question that isn't related to that topic
eklectc
hi everyone
kennedy
hello
Olivia
for sure, this question is not related to the topic.
LAFIA
can someone explain the process of glycolysis and the electron transport chain? I'm so freakin lost. it loses carbons, gains hydroxyls, gains, loses Hydrogens....ugh it's like a foreign language to me! or direct me to a youTube video or something that will make this seem easier to concept?
eklectc
it's a loaded question, sorry!
eklectc
why is DNA a genetic material
Mcbeth Reply
DNA is genetic material because it contains chromosome contains the traits which includes characters and behavioral characteristics
chima
why is it difficulty to classfy protista
Tanaka
Good
Eddy
what is infection prevention
Muhammed Reply
good hygiene
Dhaqan
way of preventing disease causing germs
henry
maintenance of sterilization
Pooja
h
Faustina
describe the components of the epidemiology triangle
Muhammed Reply
Hai
Nantongo
hii
Md
where from you
Md
i am Indian
Md
you
Md
Hello friend
effiong
How are you people doing
effiong
أ‌) Host factor ب) pathogen ج) environment
Widad
Hello
Kofi
Hi
Widad
hey hi
kalai
The epidemiologic triangle is made up of three parts: agent, host and environment
Princess
please can a microbiologist will work at hospital
Usman
yes but some state whose have deficiency of medical laboratories practictioners
jamilu
yes, as a lab scientists
kehinde
pls what are the layers of the skin
Jenny
Epidermis and Dermis
Nantongo
EPIDERMIS is the outer layer of the skin and it made up of three layers. Cornified, Granular and Malpighian layer. DERMIS is composed mainly of connection tissues, sweat glands, sebaceous glands, sensory nerves endings and fat cells.
MASA
The epidemiologic triangle is made up of three parts: agent, host and environment.
Kamaluddeen
what are the fluids used in biochemistry Lab used to diagnose diseases
Jb Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Microbiology. OpenStax CNX. Nov 01, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col12087/1.4
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