(see also: Meningitis-B information)
Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. It can be caused by a number of infectious agents including viruses and bacteria. The type of meningitis and its cause can only be determined by a physician using laboratory test results. Meningitis is serious; if you suspect meningitis, you must seek medical care immediately.
Bacterial meningitis is often more severe than aseptic meningitis, particularly in infants and the elderly. Before antibiotics were widely used, 70 percent or more of bacterial meningitis cases were fatal; with antibiotic treatment, the fatality rate has dropped to 15 percent or less. Bacterial meningitis is most common in the winter and spring.
Viral meningitis (also called aseptic meningitis) is the most common type of meningitis and is less severe than bacterial meningitis. In Illinois, an average of 600 cases of aseptic meningitis are reported annually, with most occurring in late summer and early autumn. The majority of cases of aseptic meningitis are due to viruses called enteroviruses that can infect the stomach and small intestine. A small number of cases are caused by different viruses, which can be transmitted by infected mosquitos; these are called arboviruses. Fatal cases of viral meningitis are rare and complete recovery is the rule.
Meningitis is routinely reported after vaccination, with up to 30% of reported cases occurring within four days of vaccination. To read more about reported cases of meningitis after vaccination, <click HERE>.
Recommended Reading is Listed Below, and click for more…)
- Shingles meningitis: First reported case of opportunistic central nervous system varicella zoster infection – June, 2013
- Reports of Meningitis after vaccination through end of 2012
- A case of mumps meningitis: a complication of vaccination? CMAJ. 1988 January 15; 138(2): 135.
- Risk of aseptic meningitis after measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine in UK children. Lancet. 1993 Apr 17;341(8851):979-82.
- Even in areas of West Nile Virus epizootics, enteroviruses continue to be important causative agents of aseptic meningitis (from: Aseptic Meningitis Epidemic during a West Nile Virus Avian Epizootic).
- Aseptic Meningitis — New York State and United States, Weeks 1-36, 1991 (mentions Vermont)
- June 2011 Mosquito-borne Illnesses in Vermont (“Eighty percent of WNV infections are subclinical. Approximately 20% of infections result in West Nile fever which is characterized by non-specific symptoms such as fever, headache and fatigue. Some people will develop a skin rash on the trunk, swollen lymph nodes or eye pain. Recovery is usually complete. In about 1% of infections, neuroinvasive disease develops, and clinical syndromes ranging from febrile headache to aseptic meningitis to encephalitis may occur. This is most common in older patients. Symptoms may include fever, gastrointestinal symptoms, ataxia and extrapyramidal signs, optic neuritis, seizures, weakness, change in mental status, myelitis, polyradiculitis. A minority of patients with severe disease develop a maculopapular or morbilliform rash involving the neck, trunk, arms, or legs. A few patients develop flaccid paralysis.”)
- Aseptic Meningitis Epidemic during a West Nile Virus Avian Epizootic