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Bacterial Meningitis

Download Facts About Bacterial Meningitis

Bacterial Meningitis Facts

Bacterial meningitis is a serious infection of the thin lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Several different bacteria can cause meningitis.

How is bacterial meningitis spread?

  • The bacteria are spread to other people through droplets of saliva from an infected person.
  • Close and prolonged contact with an infected person can contribute to the spread of the disease, including:
    • Kissing.
    • Sneezing or coughing on someone.
    • Living in close quarters - such as a dormitory or house.
    • Sharing eating or drinking utensils.
    • Sharing cigarettes, pipes, or other paraphernalia used with tobacco or marijuana.

What are the symptoms of bacterial meningitis?

The symptoms of bacterial meningitis usually develop within three to seven days after exposure. The most common symptoms of meningitis are:

  • Stiff neck.
  • High fever.
  • Nausea.
  • Sensitivity to light.
  • Confusion.
  • Headaches.
  • Vomiting.

More severe symptoms can include brain damage, hearing loss and death.

Who is at risk?

People of any age are at risk for bacterial meningitis. Those most at risk for developing bacterial meningitis include:

  • Infants.
  • Larger groups of people living in close contact such as college dorms, sleep-away camps and military barracks.

What should I do if I think I have bacterial meningitis?

If you are experiencing any symptoms of bacterial meningitis, contact your doctor right away. If you do not have a doctor or cannot reach them, go to your nearest emergency room immediately.

How is bacterial meningitis treated?

Bacterial meningitis can be treated effectively with antibiotics. Bacterial meningitis can be fatal, and treatments should be started as soon as possible. People who have been near someone diagnosed with meningitis may also require antibiotic treatment.

How can I prevent bacterial meningitis?

Vaccination offers the best protection against meningitis. Vaccines are available in the U.S. for people six weeks of age and older. Talk with your doctor, or visit an immunization clinic to receive the vaccine.

For more information, call Denver Public Health at (303) 602-3614

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Denver Public Health, National Meningitis Association, World Health Organization.