Bacterial Meningitis

NEET'22 Crash Course

Introduction to Meningitis

Meningitis is considered a disease where people feel the inflammation of their membranes and fluid that surround their spinal cord and brain. The swelling that arises from meningitis commonly triggers some signs and symptoms, like fever, stiff neck, and headache. Most meningitis is caused by some kind of viral infection though some other causes are fungal, bacterial, and parasitic infections. A few instances of meningitis recover even without any treatment, and that too in some weeks only, whereas some can turn out to be life-threatening and need urgent antibiotic treatment.


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What is Called Bacterial Meningitis?

Bacterial meningitis is considered the most common kind of meningitis, and nearly 80% of all cases turn out to be serious bacterial meningitis. The horrifying thing is this meningitis can turn out to be life-threatening. This meningitis infection can make the tissues that surround the brain swell. It obstructs the flow of blood, and so, people can suffer from a stroke or become paralyzed.

Bacterial Meningitis Causes

  • Some bacterial meningitis causes are:

  • Streptococcus pneumoniae. It is also known as pneumococcus.

  • Haemophilus influenzae. It is also called Hib.

  • Neisseria meningitidis. This is also called meningococcus.

  • E.coli

  • Group B strep

  • Listeria Monocytogenes

Bacteria causing meningitis can live in the host’s body and his surroundings. In many instances, they do not cause any harm. Bacterial meningitis happens when these bacteria get in people’s bloodstream before travelling to their spinal cord and brain for beginning an infection.

Some bacteria that result in this type of infection get spread via closer personal contact like kissing, sneezing, and coughing.

What is the Clinical Manifestation of Meningitis?

Meningitis is a severe infection that gets caused by various pathogens that include fungi, viruses, and bacteria. Many diverse bacteria can give rise to meningitis. N. meningitides causes meningococcal meningitis, and it has the probability to create huge epidemics. Meningococcal meningitis is capable of affecting any person regardless of his age. Commonly, it affects babies, young people, and pre-school children. This disease does occur in many situations beginning from sporadic cases to huge epidemics all through the world. 

Geographical distribution differs based on serogroup. The huge burden of some meningococcal meningitis happens in the belt of meningitis. N. meningitidis can give rise to various diseases. IMD or Invasive meningococcal disease is referred to the assortment of some invasive diseases that N. meningitidis causes, and it includes meningitis, arthritis, and septicemia. In the same way, S. pneumoniae causes some invasive diseases that include pneumonia and otitis.

Bacterial Meningitis Symptoms

Some bacterial meningitis symptoms are a stiff neck, severe headache, and high fever. When you form this disease, you might come across vomiting, nausea, confusion, sensitivity to bright lights, and a rash of some purple discolouration. Parents of babies who haven’t attained the age of 2 years should monitor whether their child is uninterested in eating or has become irritated. 

Symptoms do start very fast and, at times, in just two hours only. These symptoms do progress in one or a couple of days. You need to seek medical attention when you show some severe signs of bacterial meningitis. Your physician will treat your condition if you show acute bacterial meningitis symptoms by prescribing some antibiotics immediately.

Meningitis Clinical Features

Adults experience severe headaches when they suffer from meningitis. This feature is observed in nearly 90 percent of cases, and neck stiffness follows it. The classic chord of some diagnostic signs comprises sudden high fever, stiffness of the neck, and altered states of mind. However, these features remain present in just 44 to 46 per cent of the cases of bacterial meningitis. When a person does not come across any of these signs, then he can assume that he isn’t suffering from acute meningitis. Some other clinical manifestations of meningitis comprise photophobia and phonophobia. Most often, little children fail to display these symptoms, and they look unwell and become irritable. In infants, the fontanelle does bulge. Some other features that differentiate less severe illnesses from meningitis are cold extremities, leg pain, and unusual skin colour.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q. 1 Meningitis is caused by which bacteria?


Many strains of bacteria are capable of causing severe bacterial meningitis like:

  • Streptococcus Pneumonia – This bacterium remains responsible for causing bacterial meningitis in little children, infants, and adults. It causes sinus or ear infections or pneumonia.

  • Neisseria Meningitidis – This bacterium too causes bacterial meningitis. This is an infection that commonly affects teenagers as well as young adults. A vaccine turns out to be helpful in preventing this infection.

  • Haemophilus Influenzae – This bacterium once was the chief cause of bacterial meningitis. Commonly, children used to get this meningitis. However, today, Hib vaccines have been successful in lessening this kind of meningitis.

  • Listeria Monocytogenes – These bacteria remain present in hot dogs, lunch meats, and cheese. If you have a weak immune system, then you can suffer from meningitis.

Q. 2 How to prevent meningitis?


For preventing meningitis, you need to take the steps mentioned below:

  • Adopt Good Hygiene – Never share foods, drinks, lip balms, toothbrushes, and utensils with others.

  • Wash Your Hands – When you wash your hands carefully, then you can prevent meningitis. It is always a good practice to wash your hands with soap before you eat and also after you return from the toilet.

  • Cover Your Mouth – If you need to sneeze or cough, you must cover your nose and mouth very well.

  • Remain Healthy – You must also maintain a good immune system by exercising regularly, getting sufficient rest, and eating lots of vegetables, whole grains, and fresh fruits.

Q. 3 What are the risk factors of meningitis?


You must be aware of the meningitis symptoms, treatment, and prevention for understanding the risk factors:

  • Age – The majority of instances of viral meningitis happen in children who haven’t attained the age of 5 years. Commonly, people who are under the age of 20 suffer from bacterial meningitis.

  • Skipping Vaccinations – The risk for meningitis happens for every person who has not finished the vaccinations.

  • Staying in Some Community Settings – College students living in dormitories, children studying in boarding schools, and personnel living on military bases remain susceptible to meningococcal meningitis. 

  • Weaker Immune System – Diabetes, AIDs, use of some immunosuppressant drugs, alcoholism, and several other factors affect a person’s immune system and make him exposed to meningitis.

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