Every year, more than 300 cases of meningitis are registered in Spain. It is a serious and rapidly advancing disease that can cause significant sequelae, despite its low incidence. It is estimated that between 11% and 19% of people who survive meningitis suffer some type of neurological type sequela or because of sepsis developed from infection.
This sickness, mainly caused by viruses and bacteria, It can affect anyone, although the highest risk groups are young people and children, as well as immunosuppressed patients of any age.
The diagnosis of this pathology is complicated because the symptoms can be confused with other diseases.. Hence, the use of rapid syndromic diagnostic techniques is especially important when meningitis is suspected. These methods reveal the pathogenic microorganism, virus or bacteria that causes the disease.
Microbiology has evolved in recent years to offer technological solutions that allow detection of the pathogenic microorganism in “record time”, according to the microbiologist Concha Gimeno, head of the Microbiology Service of the General Hospital of Valencia. “There are genome detection methods that make identification possible in an hour, with which we can apply targeted and appropriate treatment to the specific bacteria and their resistance,” said Dr. Concha Gimeno.
From the Spanish Association against Meningitis point out the importance of both prevention and early diagnosis of the disease. “Detecting disease early can be the difference between life and death“Said Elena Moya, vice president of the Spanish Association against Meningitis. “The sequelae of meningitis are very serious in some cases, and may leave children and adolescents with amputated limbs, blind, deaf or brain damaged. We see it daily in our Association. If we have the tools to prevent it and treat it in the best possible way, we have to make use of them, “concluded Moya.
“Rapid microbiological diagnostic techniques are essential in hospital laboratories.. They allow better management of the patient with meningitis both to initiate optimal treatment and to avoid it in those unnecessary cases, “says Dr. Cristina Calvo, head of Section of the Pediatric and Infectious Diseases Service at the University Hospital of La Paz.
Knowing the specific pathogen is even more fundamental in case the infection is caused by a resistant bacteria. “In pediatric meningitis, infection with multidrug-resistant bacteria is rare. However, in children with chronic or immunosuppressed diseases, with prolonged prior hospitalizations, it is possible that infections by antibiotic resistant bacteria may appear, “said Dr. Calvo.
“In these cases, it is very useful to quickly detect not only which is the producing bacteria, but also if it has any resistance mechanism to the most frequently used drugs,” continues Dr. Gimeno.