FUNGAL MENINGITIS

Fungal meningitis is usually caused by a type of fungus called Cryptococcus. This rare type of meningitis is most likely to strike people with weak immune systems. Fungal meningitis is not contagious.

The fungi are usually inhaled and then spread by the blood to the central nervous system; fungi may also be directly inserted into the central nervous system by medical techniques or enter from an infected site near the central nervous system to cause meningitis.

Risk factors include any disease or treatment that may weaken the immune system, surgical procedures and medications may introduce fungi into the central nervous system, and other factors such as pregnancy or living in areas that have high fungal concentrations in the soil or air increase the risk of fungal meningitis.

Headache, stiff neck, fever, nausea and vomiting, photophobia, and altered mental status are potential symptoms of fungal meningitis.

DIAGNOSIS

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.

 

RECOMMENDED MEDICATIONS

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.

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