Meningitis: Facts & Information

Meningitis – Learn about symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention of this disease.

  • Bacterial: Bacterial infections can be life-threatening, requiring prompt medical intervention. Vaccines are available to protect against some types of bacterial meningitis.
  • Viral: Viral infection is serious, but typically less severe than bacterial infection. Immunocompetent individuals with viral meningitis typically recover without treatment.
  • Fungal: Fungal transmission is rare, but possible via inhalation of fungal spores from the environment. Individuals with certain medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, cancer, HIV) have a higher risk of contracting fungal meningitis.

It is an inflammation (swelling) of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Moreover, a bacterial or viral infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord usually causes the swelling. However, injuries, cancer, certain drugs, and other types of infections also can cause it. It is important to know the specific type because the treatment differs depending on the cause.

  • Bacterial: Germs typically spread from person to person. Some strains can spread through food. The transmission method depends on the bacteria type.
  • Viral: Close contact with an infected person can result in viral transmission. However, not everyone who contracts the virus will develop it. While the virus can spread from person to person, it’s uncommon for the infection to develop.

Symptoms include sudden onset of

  • Fever

  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Photophobia (eyes being more sensitive to light)
  • Altered mental status (confusion)

Those who do recover can have permanent disabilities, such as brain damage, hearing loss, and learning disabilities.

Vaccines are the most effective way to protect against certain types of bacterial meningitis. There are vaccines for 4 types of bacteria that can cause meningitis:

  • Meningococcal vaccines help protect against N. meningitidis
  • Pneumococcal vaccines help protect against S. pneumoniae
  • Haemophilus influenzae serotype b (Hib) vaccines help protect against Hib
  • Bacille Calmette-GuĂ©rin vaccine helps protect against tuberculosis disease, but is not widely used in the United States
  • Book an appointment, Immunize Los Angeles has you covered.