With an objective to generate widespread awareness about meningitis – a dangerous infectious disease that can kill in a matter of hours or cause lifelong disability – World Meningitis Day (WMD) is observed on April 24. Sponsored by the Confederation of Meningitis Organizations (CoMO), the campaign is a unique occasion to raise awareness about how meningitis strikes quickly, causes severe complications, and can affect anyone. Meningitis is a chronic, infectious disease that causes inflammation of the membranes (meninges) covering the brain and spinal cord. A bacterial or viral infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord usually causes the swelling. The swelling from meningitis typically triggers signs and symptoms such as headache, fever, and a stiff neck. Generally, viral and bacterial infections are considered as the primary causes of this condition. However, certain other causes include drug allergies, fungus, cancer and chemical irritation. Meningitis can affect anyone but infants, young children, adolescents and older people are at the highest risk. Mild cases of meningitis can improve without treatment within a few weeks. Severe cases are treated using antibiotics, corticosteroids, anticonvulsants, oxygen therapy, fluids and sedatives. Administration of these treatment modalities may depend on the type of symptoms and severity of infection. Incorporating healthy lifestyle habits and administering correct immunizations are the preventative measures recommended. For correct clinical documentation of this condition, physicians can consider utilizing medical billing services.

As part of the 2021 one-day awareness campaign, the Confederation of Meningitis Organisations (CoMO) and its global members aim to encourage individuals, families and communities to understand the signs and symptoms of meningitis, the importance of urgent treatment of the disease, and inform them that prevention is available through vaccination against some forms of meningitis. As per reports from the Confederation of Meningitis Organisations (CoMO), meningitis continues to be a major global public health issue and about 2.5 million meningitis cases are reported each year globally. The condition causes about 2, 30,000 deaths every year and leaves 5, 00,000 people with lifelong disability every year. In November 2020, the 73rd World Health Assembly approved the first ever resolution on meningitis prevention and control and the “Defeating Meningitis by 2030” global road map. WHO supports efforts to #DefeatMeningitis (in the light of this new global strategy) with an objective to eliminate bacterial meningitis epidemic, and reduce deaths and disability associated with the disease.

In the early stages, meningitis symptoms may mimic the flu (influenza). However, as the condition progresses and becomes severe, symptoms like sudden high fever, severe headache, confusion or difficulty concentrating, stiff neck, seizures, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light, sleepiness and skin rashes tend to occur. These symptoms can appear either suddenly or over a few days (normally about 3 to 7 days) after causing the infection. Age, skipping vaccination and a compromised immune system are some of the potential risk factors associated with the condition.

The one-day observance aims to educate the general public about the importance of early diagnosis, treatment and prevention of meningitis infection. A delay in diagnosis and treatment could claim lives and leave many others with serious, life-long after effects. Diagnosis of this infectious condition involves a physical examination and a detailed medical history review. Physicians may check for signs of infection around the head, ears, throat and the skin along the spine. Imaging tests such as Computerized tomography (CT), Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be performed to check for possible signs of swelling or inflammation. Treatment options for this condition may depend on the type of infections and whether it is acute or chronic and generally include – antibiotics, corticosteroids, anticonvulsants, oxygen therapy, fluids and sedatives. Infectious disease specialists or other physicians treating meningitis patients can rely on the services of a professional medical billing and coding company for correct clinical documentation of this condition. ICD-10 codes for diagnosing meningitis include –

  • G00 Bacterial meningitis, not elsewhere classified
    • G00.0 Hemophilus meningitis
    • G00.1 Pneumococcal meningitis
    • G00.2 Streptococcal meningitis
    • G00.3 Staphylococcal meningitis
    • G00.8 Other bacterial meningitis
    • G00.9 Bacterial meningitis, unspecified
  • G01 Meningitis in bacterial diseases classified elsewhere
  • G02 Meningitis in other infectious and parasitic diseases classified elsewhere
  • G03 Meningitis due to other and unspecified causes
    • G03.0 Nonpyogenic meningitis
    • G03.1 Chronic meningitis
    • G03.2 Benign recurrent meningitis [Mollaret]
    • G03.8 Meningitis due to other specified causes
    • G03.9 Meningitis, unspecified

The “World Meningitis Day” was first observed as a campaign in the year 2008 as an initiative of the worldwide Confederation of Meningitis Organizations (CoMO). The theme for 2021 WMD is – “TakeAction #DefeatMeningitis” – which educates people about the different ways in which they can get involved in the campaign and encourages them to take action by sharing valuable resources that support the campaign. As part of the global observance, a wide range of events and activities are organized worldwide to generate awareness about the importance of diagnosing the symptoms and taking action to defeat meningitis at an early stage. These events include – sharing resources from CoMO’s Toolkit, downloading the World Meningitis Day (WMD) logo (from the CoMO website), sharing and posting infographics and testimonial tiles or powerful personal stories from people describing their individual experiences with meningitis via WhatsApp and other social media platforms. People are encouraged to change their Facebook and Twitter profile picture to show their support for WMD. They can use the hashtags #WorldMeningitisDay and #DefeatMeningitis via social platforms to showcase their huge support for this campaign.

Join World Meningitis Day (WMD) Campaign on April 24! Take strong action to defeat the cases of meningitis on a global level.