What're the risk factors for meningitis?
Children under age 5, young people ages 18 to 24 and older adults are more likely to develop meningitis than the rest of the population. Black, Eskimo and American Indian children are especially at risk of meningitis caused by the bacteria H. influenzae and Streptococcus pneumoniae. People with weakened or suppressed immune systems also are at higher
People who work with domestic animals (e.g., dairy farmers, ranchers) and pregnant women are at increased risk for meningitis associated with listeriosis (disease transmitted from animals to humans via soil). Listeriosis can be transmitted from mother to fetus through the placenta, causing spontaneous abortion. The disease is usually fatal in newborns.
College students living in dormitories, personnel on military bases and children in boarding schools and child-care facilities are at increased risk of meningococcal meningitis, mainly because infectious diseases tend to spread quickly wherever large groups of people congregate.
If you're pregnant, you're 20 times more likely to contract listeriosis, an infection that may cause meningitis. If you have listeriosis, your unborn baby is at risk too. Also at higher risk of listeriosis are people who work with domestic animals, including dairy farmers and ranchers.
Some studies have linked increased risk to smoking and drinking alcohol, which may suppress your body's immune system. Other factors that may compromise your immune system - including AIDS, diabetes and use of immunosuppressant drugs - also make you more susceptible to meningitis. Removal of your spleen, an important part of your immune system, may also increase your risk.
More information on meningitis
What is meningitis? - Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, the membrane envelopes that encase the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis can range from mild to life-threatening.
What's viral meningitis? - Viral meningitis, also called aseptic meningitis, is caused by many different viruses. Most viral meningitis is associated with enteroviruses.
What is bacterial meningitis? - Bacterial meningitis may be fatal or cause serious long-term complications. Acute bacterial meningitis is a true medical emergency.
What causes meningitis? - The most common infectious causes of meningitis vary according to an individual's age, habits, living environment, and health status.
What causes bacterial meningitis? - A number of types of bacteria can cause acute bacterial meningitis. They include pneumococcus, meningococcus, haemophilus, and listeria.
What're the risk factors for meningitis? - People who work with domestic animals and pregnant women are at increased risk for meningitis associated with listeriosis.
What're the complications of meningitis? - The complications of meningitis can be severe. Some of these effects are permanent and physically disabling.
How is meningitis diagnosed? - A number of techniques are used to verify the diagnosis. The most important test used to diagnose meningitis is the lumbar puncture.
What's the treatment for meningitis? - Antibiotic medications are the most important element of treatment against bacterial agents of meningitis.
How to prevent meningitis? - Vaccines to protect against S. pneumoniae and H. influenzae type b (Hib) are available and have dramatically reduced the number of meningitis cases.