Also known as: bacterial meningitis, spinal meningitis.

What is meningitis?

Meningitis is an infection that causes inflammation of the linings that cover the spinal cord and the brain. The disease can cause deadly complications if it isn’t detected and treated early. It occurs most often in infants and children but any age group can be affected.

What causes meningitis?

The most common causes of meningitis are viral, but it can also be caused by bacteria and very rarely fungi. The bacterial forms of meningitis tend to be the most dangerous and life threatening.

Meningitis may occur in people with weakened immune systems and is of concern in young patients, in college students and in those with sickle cell anemia or HIV.

What are the symptoms of meningitis?

Initially, the symptoms of meningitis may seem like a cold, with a runny nose, fever, and achiness. However, symptoms can escalate quickly to include a severe headache, confusion, a stiff neck, vomiting and a high fever.

What are meningitis care options? 

If any of the symptoms mentioned above appear, seek immediate medical attention. Bacterial meningitis can be treated and cured with antibiotics. If treatments are not started early the risk of hearing loss, stroke, brain damage and even death. Even in cases where treatment was stared quickly this infection can lead to serious side effects because of its rapid and progressive onset.

Reviewed by: Otto M Ramos, MD

This page was last updated on: July 22, 2022 04:13 PM

Infectious Diseases

The Division of Infectious Diseases at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital uses state-of-the-art diagnostic tools to identify acute or chronic viral and bacterial diseases, so that we can treat it effectively as quickly as possible.

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