Meningitis at 40x Magnification
Due to the rapid progression of many forms of meningitis, a quick and efficacious diagnosis is essential to the patient’s chances of survival and avoidance of serious complications. A medical history and physical exam may help clearly indicate the disease, but definitive diagnosis is generally made through the analysis of cerebrospinal fluid obtained via a spinal tap. In some cases, a doctor may administer a general antibiotic to the patient immediately in an attempt to minimize the severity of the illness even before the specific cause is determined. Many people wait so long after symptoms begin to seek medical attention that the disease is already in an advanced state by the time they see a doctor. This mistake is very easy to make since many of the earliest signs of meningitis (vomiting, fever, headache, and lethargy) are remarkably similar to symptoms of the flu. Approximately 1 in 10 people with meningitis die from the disease.