ATLANTA, GA – Over the past month, volatile swings in bitcoin have led to an ominous halving of its value, which has thrown investors into a panic. Today digital currency and its faithful followers received another blow as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a highly-feared infectious complication for its users: cryptocurrency meningitis (CM).
“Everyone has been focusing on the benefits of cryptocurrency: it’s digital and it can’t be centrally regulated,” explained CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald. “However, cryptocurrency is highly speculative and now we have seen five cases of CM since December 2017. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies may not be physical currencies, but they are not without risk, and they certainly cross the blood-brain barrier with ease.”
In the cases to which Fitzgerald refers, patients presented to emergency rooms with fever, headache, stiff neck, photophobia, nausea, vomiting, and skin rash. All five patients were immunocompetent and HIV negative. However, the five patients had one thing in common in their histories: four were bitcoin users while the fifth patient used Litecoin.
“Cryptocurrency meningitis should be considered an opportunistic infection in users of bitcoin, Litecoin, ether, Zcash, Dash, Ripple, and Monero,” said President of the Infectious Diseases Society of America Dr. Paul Auwaerter. “Cryptocurrency meningitis should not be mistaken for cryptococcal meningitis, though both are ultimately treated with amphotericin B and flucytosine, followed by fluconazole.”
Auwaerter said patients who do not use cryptocurrencies are essentially immune to cryptocurrency infection including meningitis and the dreaded pulmonary cryptocurrcosis, which carries a 100% mortality rate.
“Once bitcoins start getting into the lungs, the immune system starts attacking not only the currency but the lungs,” Auwaerter detailed with a tremor in his voice. “This dysregulated host response causes alveoli and pulmonary capillaries to start breaking down, ultimately leading to massive hemoptysis. It’s horrible, blood and bitcoins everywhere.”