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Meningitis, often known as spinal meningitis, is an infection of the spinal cord. It is usually the result of a viral or bacterial infection. Bacterial meningitis is more severe than viral meningitis and may cause brain damage, hearing loss, and learning disabilities. An estimated 1.2 million cases of bacterial meningitis occur every year, over a tenth of which are fatal. Symptoms include severe headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, lethargy, delirium, photophobia, and a stiff neck.

Meningitis may develop in response to a number of causes, usually bacteria or viruses, but meningitis can also be caused by physical injury, cancer or certain drugs.

The severity of illness and the treatment for meningitis differ depending on the cause. Thus, it is important to know the specific cause of meningitis.

Bacterial Meningitis

Bacteria, like Neisseria meningitidis and Streptococcus pneumoniae, can cause life-threatening infections that need immediate medical attention. There are vaccines to prevent some kinds of bacterial meningitis.

Viral Meningitis

Meningitis can be caused by viruses, like enteroviruses, arboviruses and herpes simplex viruses. It’s serious, but less severe than bacterial meningitis, and people with normal immune systems usually get better on their own. There are vaccines to prevent some kinds of viral meningitis.

Fungal Meningitis

Fungal meningitis is caused by fungi like Cryptococcus and Histoplasma and is usually acquired by inhaling fungal spores from the environment. People with certain medical conditions like diabetes, cancer, or HIV are at higher risk of fungal meningitis.

Parasitic Meningitis

This type of meningitis is caused by parasites and is less common in developed countries. Parasites, like Angiostrongylus cantonensis, can contaminate food, water and soil.

Non-Infectious Meningitis

Sometimes meningitis is not spread from person to person, but is instead caused by cancers, systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus), certain drugs, head injury, and brain surgery.

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For more information, see: CDC | Wikipedia


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