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Meningitis is an infection of certain membranes and tissues of the nervous system. Those are called meninges (singular: meninx). Their function is to protect the central nervous system. Most often, this infection is caused by microorganisms, like viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites. The most common cause of meningitis are viruses, followed by bacteria. Meningitis is a life-threatening condition. It affects all age groups.
Some kinds of meningitis are very easy to spread. For this reason, in certain countries, like Germany, doctors have to tell the authorities that someone might have meningitis.
Signs of meningitis
Some signs of meningitis can be: high fever, sometimes with chills; very strong headache; nauseas and vomiting; drowsiness or confusion; twitching; sleepiness; sore throat; delirium (especially in children); seizures; and stiff neck (in less than 50% of the cases, but may be a telltale sign).
The two main forms of meningitis are bacterial meningitis and viral meningitis. In bacterial meningitis, most patients die without treatment, whereas in viral meningitis most patients get better on their own. Herpes virus meningitis may respond to an antiviral drug.
- Encephalitis, the inflammation (swelling) of the brain
- Meningitis at the Open Directory Project
- WHO: Meningococcal meningitis
- Merck Manual: Central nervous system infections
- Vaccination information from the NHS, UK
- CDC: Meningococcal disease
- CNN Health Library, Meningitis
- Information on Meningitis UK and the charity's search for a vaccine
- Information from the Meningitis Trust
- Information from the Meningitis Trust in New Zealand