Meningitis

Overview

Meningitis is a disease caused by an inflammation of the meninges, the membranes that surround the brain. The inflammation is usually caused by infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Of the two types of meningitis, the viral form is more common but seldom life threatening. Bacterial meningitis, however, although rare may be fatal. Among the main causes of viral meningitis are different viruses spread between people by coughing or sneezing, or through poor hygiene. Causative germs may originate in sewage polluted water as well. On rare occasions, certain insects, such as mosquitos and ticks, are thought to pass on these viruses. The organism that causes the bacterial version of the disease may be spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions, such as coughing and kissing. In all four different types of bacteria are known to cause the disease. Infection could take several routes to the brain: the bloodstream from another infected part of the body, through the bones of the skull from infected sinuses or inner ears, or from a head injury, such as a fractured skull or penetrating wound.

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