National Meningitis Association


Essentially, there are two major divisions of meningitis -- viral (caused by a virus) and bacterial (caused by one of several types and strains of bacteria residing in the throat or nasal passages). The bacterial form of meningitis is extremely dangerous, fast-moving and has the most potential for being fatal. For many survivors, the long-term effects can be debilitating, possibly including multiple amputations, hearing loss and kidney damage. Many (but not all) forms of bacterial meningitis can be prevented by vaccination. Viral meningitis has similar symptoms to bacterial meningitis, but is neither as deadly nor as debilitating for the most part. There is no vaccine protection against viral meningitis; it is most often treated with an antibiotic.

Major Bacterial Types

There are many forms and types of bacteria which cause meningitis, but NMA focuses particularly on meningococcal meningitis because it is deadly, preventable and very few people, including doctors, are fully informed about methods of prevention against the disease.

These are big words for one of the most devastating types of meningitis today. The disease is expressed as either meningococcal meningitis, an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, or meningococcemia, the presence of bacteria in the blood. Meningococcal meningitis is the most common cause of bacterial meningitis for U.S. toddlers, adolescents and young adults.

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