Wednesday, August 09, 2006

NIH: Viral Meningitis

Among various bits of self congratulatory back patting, Jim Bowden let slip something interesting in his weekly examiner article. It seems that Nationals draft pick Chris Marerro is recovering from viral meningitis. Yes, that meningitis.

Before I get too carried away here, the key word is "recovering" and he is expected to return to action within the next two weeks.

The word meningitis strikes fear in the hearts of anyone who's ever lived in a dorm, because every year there's some news story about three people on a hall getting it, and one or two of them dying. It's nasty damn stuff. Generically "meningitis" means a swelling of the membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord. More specifically it comes in two major flavors based on what has caused the swelling: viral (or aseptic) and bacterial.

There are a wide range of viruses and bacteria that can cause meningitis. Don't think of it so much as one disease more as a very serious symptom. Now, when you hear about the dorm deaths caused by the disease, it's usually the less frequent bacterial flavor of meningitis, and is very...well...fatal. Viral is much more common, and often goes undiagnosed, mostly because the symptoms end up looking like something else, usually like the flu.

If it is viral meningitis, Marrero should have little to worry about, and should be back on his feet soon. NIH wishes him good recover and good health.

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