What Causes Bacterial Meningitis?

Q:
What causes bacterial meningitis?

A:
Bacterial meningitis is caused by several different types of bacteria, including:

  • E. coli
  • Group B strep
  • Haemophilus influenzae, also called Hib
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Neisseria meningitidis, also called meningococcus
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae, also called pneumococcus

Bacteria that cause meningitis can live in your body and the environment around you. In many cases they are harmless. Bacterial meningitis occurs when these bacteria get in your bloodstream and travel to your brain and spinal cord to start an infection.

Most bacteria that cause this form of infection are spread through close personal contact, such as:

  • coughing
  • kissing
  • sneezing

Additionally, babies and people with weak immune systems are more likely to develop bacterial meningitis. It’s important to note that the cause of an infection can be hard to pinpoint.

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