News: The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched the first-ever global strategy to defeat meningitis, a debilitating disease that kills hundreds of thousands of people each year.

What is Meningitis?

  • Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. People of any age can get meningitis.
  • Most cases are caused by bacteria or viruses, but some can be due to certain medicines or illnesses. Meningitis is usually caused by a viral infection but can also be bacterial or fungal.
  • Both kinds of meningitis spread like most other common infections do — someone who’s infected touches, kisses, or coughs or sneezes on someone who isn’t infected.
  • Bacterial meningitis is rare, but is usually serious and can be life-threatening if not treated right away.
  • Viral meningitis (also called aseptic meningitis) is more common than bacterial meningitis and usually less serious. Many of the viruses that cause meningitis are common, such as those that cause colds, diarrhea, cold sores, and the flu.
  • Meningitis symptoms vary, depending on the person’s age and the cause of the infection.
  • The first symptoms can come on quickly or start several days after someone has had a cold, diarrhea, vomiting, or other signs of an infection.
  • Several vaccines protect against meningitis, including meningococcal, Haemophilus influenzae type b and pneumococcal vaccines. If dealt with quickly, meningitis can be treated successfully.