What is Meningitis?

Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes (meninges) that surround the brain and spinal cord. It’s usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection. These infections can spread through contact with an infected person or from germs in the environment. Meningitis is a serious infection and can lead to complications, such as brain damage, hearing loss, learning disabilities, and even death.

Types of Meningitis

Meningitis is categorized as either viral or bacterial, depending on the cause of the infection.

  • Viral meningitis is the most common type and is usually milder than bacterial meningitis. It’s caused by a virus, such as the enterovirus, and it often resolves without treatment.
  • Bacterial meningitis is less common but is much more serious. It can be caused by a number of different bacteria, such as Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae type B, or Neisseria meningitidis. Bacterial meningitis can cause permanent disability or even death if it’s not treated promptly with antibiotics.

Symptoms of Meningitis

The most common symptoms of meningitis include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Light sensitivity
  • Seizures
  • Rash


You can take steps to reduce your risk of getting meningitis. Immunizations are available for some types of meningitis. Additionally, you should practice good hygiene, such as washing your hands often and avoiding close contact with someone who’s infected.