MENINGOENCEPHALITIS (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Sci and Tech)

News-CRUX-10     1st July 2024        
output themes

Context: Unhygienic and stagnant water resources, coupled with high temperatures, are likely contributing factors to the recent increase in rare but fatal cases of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis in Kerala.


  • Definition: This is a rare and life-threatening condition characterized by simultaneous inflammation of the meninges (protective membranes around the brain and spinal cord) and brain tissue (encephalitis).
  • Also known as: Encephalomeningitis.
  • Types of meningoencephalitis

oBacterial meningoencephalitis

oCryptococcal meningoencephalitis

oHerpetic meningoencephalitis (HME)

oPrimary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM)

  • Symptoms: Common symptoms include headache, stiff neck or neck pain, fever, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, muscle weakness, and speech issues.
  • Infectious Agents: Mainly caused by infectious agents including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and the amoeba Naegleria fowleri.
  • Modes of Transmission: These infections can spread through air, water, food, or close contact with infected individuals.
  • Risk Factors: Children under 5 years old and individuals over 65 are particularly vulnerable due to weaker immune systems.

oSpecific Conditions: People with conditions like HIV, which weaken the immune system, are at higher risk. For instance, cryptococcal meningoencephalitis is common among those with advanced HIV disease.

  • Treatment: Cryptococcal meningoencephalitis, for example, requires antifungal medication. Providers use antiviral medications (like acyclovir) for herpetic meningoencephalitis.