Meningitis (Bacterial)

Bacterial meningitis is a severe infection of the lining of the brain or spinal cord caused by bacteria. It can cause brain damage, hearing loss and learning disabilities, among other health issues.

You can spread bacterial meningitis through person-to-person contact. It is not spread by casual contact.

People of any age group are at risk for bacterial meningitis. Newborns, infants and children are at a higher risk for infection.


The best way to protect yourself is to complete the recommended vaccine schedule. Talk to your health care provider for more information.


Symptoms can appear quickly after infection. They include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Confusion

In newborns and infants, meningitis symptoms may be difficult to notice. An infected infant may be:

  • Slow or lack alertness
  • Irritable
  • Vomiting
  • Feeding poorly

Late symptoms, such as seizures or a coma, can be severe.


If you think you have bacterial meningitis, call your health care provider right away. You can treat bacterial meningitis effectively with antibiotics.

Additional Resources

More Information