Bacterial meningitis, other than meningococcal
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Bacterial meningitis, other than meningococcal


Meningitis is an infection of the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis is rare. Meningitis is usually caused by an infection with a virus or a bacterium. Bacterial meningitis is considered as much more serious than viral meningitis and it is most commonly caused by one of three types of bacteria: Haemophilus influenzae type B, Neiseria meningitides (which is discussed in another section), and Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. Less common causes of bacterial include staphylococci, enteric bacteria, group B streptococci and Listeria; these infections usually occur in immunocompromised individuals and neonates.


Bacterial meningitis is found worldwide. The bacteria often live harmlessly in a person's mouth and throat. In rare instances, however, they can break through the body's immune defence mechanisms and reach the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord where they begin to multiply rapidly.
Signs and symptoms

In persons over 2 years of age symptoms can include:
  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Neck stiffness
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Rash
  • Others: nausea, vomiting, confusion, sleepiness and loss of consciousness


In newborns and infants, the typical symptoms of fever, headache, and neck stiffness may be hard to detect. Other signs in babies might be inactivity, irritability, vomiting, and poor feeding. As the disease progresses, patients of any age can develop seizures.
Incubation period

Between 2 - 10 days but sometimes the symptoms can appear in a few hours.
Mode of transmission

The bacteria are spread by direct close contact with the discharges from the nose or throat of an infected person. It is most common in infants and children.
Diagnostic test

The diagnosis is usually made by growing bacteria from a sample of spinal fluid obtained by a spinal tap.
Bacterial meningitis can be treated with antibiotics.

Advanced bacterial meningitis can lead to brain damage, coma, and death. Survivors can suffer long-term complications, including hearing loss, mental retardation, paralysis, and seizures.


  • Vaccines -- There are vaccines against HiB and many types of Streptococcus pneumoniae. It is recommended that by age 6 months of age, every infant should receive at least three doses of a HiB vaccine. A fourth dose (booster) should be given to children between 12 and 18 months of age.
  • Streptococcal pneumoniae (pneumococcal vaccines) are available such as:
    a) 7-valent
    b) 13-valent
    c) 23-valent
    for certain medical conditions and persons should seek medical opinion
  • Treatment of close contacts -- Antibiotics for contacts of a person with HiB disease are no longer recommended if all contacts who are 4 years of age or younger are fully vaccinated.​ 

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