Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

2 Tammuz 5766 - June 28, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Home and Family

Your Medical Questions Answered!
by Joseph B. Leibman, MD

Director, Emergency Services, Bikur Cholim Hospital

Meningitis is an infection of the covering of the brain. Its proximity to the brain makes it especially dangerous.

Bacterial meningitis can be caused by many bacteria, but three types make up the majority of cases. One of these types has a vaccine, and it particularly strikes dormitories and other places where people congregate. Another type likes infants.

The big problem is that the disease can be lethal and kill fast, and is often missed in its early stages.

Classic meningitis symptoms are a high fever, stiff neck, pain upon looking at lights, a rash, and collapse of the cardiovascular system. The poisons in the blood can cause gangrene as well.

But not all bacterial meningitis as so stormy, and not all meningitis has all the signs we just mentioned. Children less than one year old may show few if any signs, and this is why pediatricians do so many spinal taps, which is the way this disease is diagnosed. Fortunately, the disease is uncommon.

Its viral counterpart is much more common, and much less serious. In Israel they commonly admit patients with viral meningitis to the hospital, but almost all do well. In the USA they often send them home to recover.

Encephalitis is an infection of the brain itself. Herpes is the most common and treatable cause, but this is a terrible disease that can lead to brain abscess.

Both of the diseases leave the patients incapacitated if they survive.

One type of encephalitis is spread by mosquitoes. This is one of many diseases spread by mosquitoes. Malaria and yellow fever are some others. So it is worthwhile having public health authorities kill them and wipe out their breeding areas.

What about bird flu? As the season has changed, this disease has fallen from the headlines. In truth, many diseases are spread by birds, including psittacosis, Q fever, and others.

Children should never play with dead or injured birds (or any such animal for that matter). Your children may not, but Israeli children often do.

There is no danger in preparing a commercially prepared slaughtered chicken, but do wash your hands afterwards.

Turtles can spread disease as well, and are not toys if they are found in the wild. Cats are not a toy either, and can cause cat scratch fever, rabies and cellulitis. They scratch and bite.

Dogs are wild and dangerous in Israel. They may interbreed with wolves or hyenas, making them even more dangerous. If you see a pack, contact the animal control officers. In Kiryat Sefer foreign workers often adopt them, but they are dangerous.

Petting zoos are usually disease free, but children should again wash their hands. They should not torment the animals of course, nor stick their hands in the animals' mouths.

Write me in care of Yated.


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