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TB in Brain & Spine

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Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious, airborne disease that typically affects the lungs. TB is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. If the infection is not treated quickly, the bacteria can travel through the bloodstream to infect other organs and tissues. Sometimes, the bacteria will travel to the meninges, which are the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Infected meninges can result in a life-threatening condition known as meningeal tuberculosis. Meningeal tuberculosis is also known as tubercular meningitis or TB meningitis.

Symptoms

At first, symptoms of TB meningitis typically appear slowly. They become more severe over a period of weeks. During the early stages of the infection, symptoms can include:

  • fatigue
  • malaise
  • low-grade fever

As the disease progresses, the symptoms will become more serious. Classic symptoms of meningitis, such as stiff neck, headache, and light sensitivity, are not always present in meningeal tuberculosis. Instead, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • fever
  • confusion
  • nausea and vomiting
  • lethargy
  • irritability
  • unconsciousness