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Meningitis comes in several forms that affect the human body

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In the wake of a meningitis outbreak across the Midwest, it's important to know what exactly the disease is and it's symptoms.

Beartooth NBC's Drew Steele spoke with 2 Helena doctors about meningitis and how to prevent it.  Many are aware of the meningitis disease, but it's important to understand how the disease affects the body.

Contracting meningitis can lead to several noticeable physical indications.  Doctors Nicole Clark and Mark Ibsen say there are 3 kinds of meningitis: a fungal form which can only be transferred through a chemical injection, a viral form which is the most common, and a treatable bacteria form which is found in large groups and cured by a vaccine.

Ibsen says, "Students in dormitories, soldiers in barracks, that sort of thing.  People in close proximity, that are young and susceptible to that particular type of bad meningitis."

Clark says, "So the vaccine helps boost your immune system so if you are exposed to that bacteria your body can fight it off before it starts attacking the covering in your brain and takes hold."

Neither the fungal form nor the viral form of meningitis, are treatable.  The human body has learned to fight off viral infections passed.  As for the fungal infection, its rarity, hasn't led to a treatable vaccine.

In an updated count by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of people sickened by a rare fungal meningitis outbreak in the Midwest has now reached 119 cases, including 11 deaths.


Story by Drew Steele, Beartooth NBC.
Copyright ©2012 Beartooth Communications Company. All Rights Reserved.

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Drew Steele, Mark Ibsen, Nicole Clark

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