Meningitis refers to inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord.
The disease can be severe with high mortality rates, or result in permanent neurological disability.
Meningitis may be caused by bacterial, viral, or, rarely, fungal infections. (Viral meningitis is sometimes called aseptic meningitis to indicate it is not the result of bacterial infection and cannot be treated with antibiotics.)
Cerebrospinal meningitis or meningococcal meningitis is a contagious disease caused by the bacteria meningococcus. It causes both sporadic and epidemic outbreaks, predominantly in children and young adults.
Symptoms often include high fever, severe and severe persistent headache, stiff neck, nausea and vomiting, and photophobia. Confusion and seizures may also occur.
In infants, symptoms of meningitis may include irritability or fatigue, lack of appetite, and fever.
Based on clinical signs and symptoms, routine blood examination aided by lumbar puncture and study of cerebrospinal fluid. CT scan may be done to rule out encephalitis or brain abscess.
Usually requires hospitalization.
• Antiviral medications, for severe viral infections.
• Antibiotics, for bacterial infections.
• Anticonvulsants, to prevent or treat seizures.
• Corticosteroids, to reduce brain swelling and inflammation.
• Sedatives may be needed for irritability or restlessness.
• Analgesics, antipyretics, for fever and headache.
Adapted from National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. National Institutes of Health. Disorders A-Z. Meningitis. Internet. Accessed on October 13, 2012.