Meningitis: Dr Hilary outlines the main symptoms
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The Canadian actor has had a successful career, spanning more than six decades. This includes achievements such as being nominated for nine Golden Globes – winning two for his role in Citizen X and Path to War. But a series of health issues have threatened to halt his career over the years. In a 1989 interview with the LA Times, he shared some of the ailments he has had.
“Polio, rheumatic fever, hepatitis, an appendectomy, pneumonia, and scarlet fever,” are some of the conditions that Sutherland recalled having.
But the worst health ordeal he experienced came from spinal sutherlandmeningitis – a condition he said briefly killed him.
“I died… I died. For four or five seconds,” he said.
Bacterial meningitis, the most serious form of meningitis, is estimated to kill one in ten who are infected, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The lethal condition can damage the nervous system. It causes the meninges – the membranes which protect the spinal cord and brain – to swell up and press against the spinal cord and brain.
Viral meningitis, on the other hand, is less severe and generally clears up in a matter of several weeks. Most cases of viral meningitis are caused by enteroviruses – viruses that usually occur in the gastrointestinal tract – which is made up of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, intestines, and anus.
One study predicted a death rate of less than one percent for people suffering from viral meningitis caused by enteroviruses.
The star has not yet shared which type of meningitis he suffered.
Sutherland was playing the role of Sergeant Oddball in the 1970 film Kelly’s Heroes when the disease struck.
It forced him into a coma when he felt himself slipping away from life.
Talking to the Irish Examiner he said he “dug his feet in” to avoid dying.
He said: “I came to Yugoslavia for a day’s filming and I was out for six weeks.
“They took me to hospital – I had spinal meningitis. They didn’t have the antibiotics, so I went into a coma, and they tell me that for a few seconds, I died.
“I saw the blue tunnel, and I started going down it. I saw the white light. I dug my feet in.”
There are over a dozen symptoms of meningitis, including vomiting, pale or blotchy skin, a rash, a headache, stiff neck, and seizures.
“The rash usually starts as small, red pinpricks before spreading quickly and turning into red or purple blotches,” explains the NHS.
How does meningitis spread
Meningitis has become uncommon since the development of vaccines in the 1990s.
According to Public Health England, there were 491 cases of bacteria-based invasive meningococcal disease between 2019 and 2020
The bacteria that causes meningitis is spread through respiratory droplets, similar to Covid. These droplets are secreted when you cough, sneeze or kiss.
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