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Meningitis – what is this disease?

Meningitis is a disease of the membranes that protect the brain and spinal cord. Unfortunately, it can be fatal. It is mostly caused by viruses and bacteria.

It is an inflammatory process that affects the meninges surrounding the brain. The disease can occur at any age, but most often it affects infants, children and adolescents. It can be very serious if it is not diagnosed quickly and treated. Therefore, it can cause life-threatening conditions and cause permanent brain damage.

There is a vaccine available for the disease.

Meningitis: The doctor holds an x-ray of the brain in his hands


Initially, the symptoms of both bacterial and viral inflammation may coincide, but the bacterial form is generally more severe.

Symptoms of viral meningitis

In infants, symptoms include:

  • decreased appetite
  • irritability
  • somnolence
  • little activity
  • fever

In an adult, the following may also occur:  

  • Headache
  • fever
  • stiff neck
  • chills and seizures
  • somnolence
  • nausea and vomiting
  • numbness
  • decreased appetite

Bacterial meningitis most often causes:

  • sensitivity to light
  • nausea and vomiting
  • changes in mood
  • Headache
  • fever
  • chills
  • stiff neck
  • bad mental state
  • somnolence
  • purple spots on the skin that look like bruises

When we notice symptoms, contact a doctor immediately. The disease may end with the patient’s death, which is why prompt diagnosis and treatment implementation is so important. In order to diagnose what type of inflammation has occurred, tests should be performed.

Fungal meningitis – symptoms

The symptoms of fungal meningitis are similar to the rest of the types.

Rash as a symptom

A rash may be a late sign of meningitis. This occurs during an infection with bacteria. They reproduce in the blood and in cells adjacent to the capillaries. Destruction of these cells causes damage to the capillaries and gentle blood leakage. This is manifested by a red little rash. As inflammation develops, the rash becomes larger and more pronounced.

Meningitis – types

Most cases are bacterial or viral (almost 80% of cases).

Viral inflammation is the most common variety. Enteroviruses are the cause of 85% of all illnesses. The greatest concentration of these viruses is observed in summer and autumn. These include Coxsackievirus A and B, echoviruses.

Other viruses that cause disease are viruses:

  • West Nile
  • pigs
  • HIV
  • measles
  • herpes
  • flu

Viral meningitis usually goes away without treatment. However, more serious states require appropriate measures.

Bacterial meningitis is infectious and is caused by infection with various bacteria. The disease can be fatal, even with treatment.

The most common types of bacteria that cause bacterial inflammation are:

Streptococcus pneumoniae is found in the respiratory tract
Neisseria meningitidis is transmitted through saliva
Haemophilus influenza can cause not only meningitis, but also blood infection, inflammation of the trachea, connective tissue and joints
Listeria monocytogenes are found in foods
Staphylococcus aureus live on the skin and respiratory tract

Fungal meningitis is an uncommon form of meningitis. It is caused by a fungus that invades the body and then travels from the bloodstream to the brain or spinal cord. People with a damaged immune system are at a higher risk of fungal meningitis (for example, people with cancer or HIV).

The most common fungi causing inflammation are Cryptococcus, Blastomyces, Histoplasma, Coccidioides.

Parasitic meningitis

This type of meningitis occurs sporadically and is caused by parasites found in the stool and on certain animals and foods, such as snails, raw fish, and poultry. You cannot get infected from another human being only by eating infected food.

Non-infectious meningitis is not an infection in itself. It is the aftermath of another disease, for example:

  • lupus
  • cancer
  • brain diseases
  • head injuries

Possible causes

Depending on the type of inflammation, the cause is different, but the mechanism of infection is the same. The infectious agent (bacteria, fungus, virus, parasite) multiplies in the bloodstream until it reaches the brain. There it attacks the meninges or the cerebrospinal fluid and causes a serious illness.


It depends on the cause of the inflammation. They are treated with antibiotics, antifungal and antiviral drugs. In the case of the parasitic strain, treatment is to get rid of the parasites.

Overall, the disease can be mild or fatal. Therefore, it should not be underestimated and in the event of the appearance of alarming symptoms, immediately see a doctor. Symptoms are similar for different types of disease, but treatment is different for each individual. Therefore, tests that will indicate the infectious agent are important. People who require hospitalization are in the neurological ward.

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