• Question: in 2011, apparently people died from brain eating bacteria, Is this true and is it now preventable/curable?

    Asked by brows to Adrian on 15 Nov 2016.
    • Photo: Adrian Chu

      Adrian Chu answered on 15 Nov 2016:

      Every year tens of thousands of people die from “brain-eating” bacteria. This is especially the case in some regions know as the Meningitis Belt, such as sub-Saharan Africa and many tropical regions.
      This is curable by TIMELY treatment with antibiotics. This disease can progress very quickly and if nothing is done on time it can kill you within hours (especially once it gets up to your brain). In underdeveloped places this can prove to be a challenge. Also in places where people use antibiotics irresponsibly, resistance can occur and the bacteria can evolve to become incurable.
      It is also preventable by vaccines. However currently the vaccines don’t exactly cover ALL the bad guys, i.e. the pathogenic “serogroups” of the same bacteria. Some underdeveloped places don’t even have access to these vaccines due to logistical constraints, poor infrastructure and cost. Bill Gates, formerly the richest man in the world and founder of Microsoft, has helped fund a project to deliver cheap, affordable vaccines against one of the worst “serogroup” of this bacteria to people in those countries.