Meningitis: the causes

The main causes of meningitis are infectious agents: mostly bacteria or viruses.

1 - Bacterial meningitis.

In bacterial meningitis, several microbes can be implicated: meningococcus also known as Neisseria meningitidis, pneumococcus, haemophilus influenzae and Bacillus Koch (responsible for tuberculosis). Other, more common bacteria, such as streptococcus or staph, may also be responsible for meningitis.

Meningococcal or Neisseria meningitidis is most likely to cause major epidemics. There are several types, the best known are meningococcus A, B or C.

The contamination of the meninges by the bacteria can come from a nearby infection, ENT most often (for example, sinusitis or angina). Even sepsis, when a remote bacterial infection spreads in the blood and transports the bacteria to the central nervous system.

Finally, in the case of meningococcal infection, the transmission is inter-human, by the droplets of respiratory or oral secretions. Close and prolonged contact (kissing, sneezing, and close coughing), or physical proximity to an infected person (dormitory, shared cutlery, etc.), promotes the spread of the disease. The incubation period is on average 4 days, but it can be between 2 and 10 days.

2 - Viral meningitis.

The viruses involved in viral meningitis are mainly the enirovirus, or even the herpesviruses (HSV-1 and HSV-2), chicken pox, mumps, or AIDS (HIV).

Meningitis is rarely the first manifestation of these infections, but may appear as a complication. The cause of the contamination varies depending on the virus concerned.

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