Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fungal meningitis

Making headlines recently are numerous people who have become infected with fungal meningitis. The CDC has linked the infections from a compounding pharmacy in New England which has contaminated injections for epidurals. What is fungal meningitis?

Fungal meningitis occurs when a fungus enters the Central Nervous System, i.e the brain and spinal cord. The protective covering of the spinal cord and brain is called the meninges. When this becomes inflamed due to infection it is called meningitis.  Fungal meningitis is very rare, much more common is bacterial or viral. However, when a fungus infects an area near the central nervous system or in these cases is introduced through epidural injections, fungal meningitis can occur.

One question I get regularly about fungal toenails, "Can these fungal toenails cause fungal meningitis or another systemic fungal infection"? The answer is No. The fungal infection is localized to the toenail and does not enter the body or the bloodstream. The only possible infection that can result from fungal toenail is athlete's foot, a fungal skin infection. Again this is a localized fungal infection and extremely unlikely to cause any systemic fungal infections.

Dr. "Sandie" Grulke