New screening for anthrax-related meningitis developed by CDC

The CDC has developed a new screening method for anthrax-induced meningitis. | Courtesy of Shutterstock

A development for the capability to screen a large group of people for anthrax-induced meningitis has recently been published in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal. 

Meningitis is one of the most fatal results of anthrax, and understanding how to test for and treat it is extremely important for preventing mistreatments and improving survival rates.

The current method of testing for meningitis, a lumbar puncture to test the spinal fluid, is not realistic for a setting in which numerous people have possibly come into contact with anthrax, and thus be susceptible to meningitis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began looking for different ways to test for meningitis, beginning with anthrax medical documents from 1880 and reading through present-day findings, hoping to find information on meningitis links to anthrax — and ways to confirm meningitis from external symptoms.

After reading through the literature, the CDC reported that if two of four symptoms were present — intense headache, changing mental health, meningeal indications or other neurological symptoms — that a victim can be assumed to most likely have meningitis. These findings will be extremely helpful in large-capacity crisis situations, where quick screening and treatment for meningitis are a race against the clock.

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