Central Nervous System (CNS) Infections

GenMark is committed to expanding its menu of multiplex molecular panels to address a wide variety of clinical needs in the area of central nervous system (CNS) infections. The following information is provided as an educational resource only.

WHAT IS MENINGITIS? WHAT IS ENCEPHALITIS?
Meningitis is an infection of the meninges, which are the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. Inflammation of the brain itself is called encephalitis. Meningitis can be caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites or fungus. Viral meningitis is more common; bacterial meningitis is rare, but is often life-threatening.1,2 

Meningitis and encephalitis are very dangerous infections. Because the brain is enclosed in the skull it cannot expand, and when the brain swells, it pushes up against the skull, which can damage or destroy the tissue of the brain. Brain cells, unlike most other cells in the body, do not regenerate and if tissue is damaged by an infection, life-long neurological damage can remain.

HOW PREVALENT ARE MENINGITIS AND ENCEPHALITIS?
Over 1.2 million cases of bacterial meningitis are estimated to occur worldwide each year.3  In the United States, about 6,000 cases of pneumococcal meningitis and about 2,600 cases of meningococcal meningitis are diagnosed annually.2 The incidence and case-fatality rates for bacterial meningitis vary by region, country, pathogen, and age group. Several thousand cases of encephalitis are reported each year, but many more may actually occur since the symptoms may be mild to non-existent in most patients.2

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References:
1. http://www.cdc.gov/meningitis/index.html (accessed February 2016)
2. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/encephalitis_meningitis/detail_encephalitis_meningitis.htm (Accessed February 2016)
3. http://www.cdc.gov/meningitis/lab-manual/chpt02-epi.html (accessed February 2016)

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