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What causes meningitis?

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The two main causes are viruses and bacteria. They can lead to an infection in one part of your body -- the skin, gastrointestinal tract, or respiratory tract, for instance -- then spread through your bloodstream to the nervous system. Bacteria can also enter your nervous system directly after severe head trauma or head surgery, or following an infection in the head.

Fungi, protozoa, and other parasites are less common causes of meningitis. In rare cases, cancer, other diseases, or certain medications can also lead to inflammation of the meninges.

SOURCES:

Nemours Foundation: "Meningitis."

Meningitis Foundation of America: "Top 20 Questions About Meningitis."

NINDS: "Meningitis and Encephalitis Fact Sheet."

CDC: "Meningococcal Disease."

Reviewed by Dan Brennan on October 05, 2019

SOURCES:

Nemours Foundation: "Meningitis."

Meningitis Foundation of America: "Top 20 Questions About Meningitis."

NINDS: "Meningitis and Encephalitis Fact Sheet."

CDC: "Meningococcal Disease."

Reviewed by Dan Brennan on October 05, 2019

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What is bacterial meningitis?

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