Meningitis is classically defined as an inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord.
Infections that can cause meningitis include:
- viruses – also called aseptic meningitis, it can be caused by enteroviruses, measles, mumps, and herpes, etc.
- bacteria – Streptococcus pneumoniae, Neisseria meningitidis, Listeria monocytogenes, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), Group B strep
- a fungus – Cryptococcus, Histoplasma
- parasites – uncommon
- amebas – Naegleria fowleri
There are even non-infectious causes of meningitis, including the side-effects of medications and certain systemic illnesses.
Fortunately, many of these diseases that cause meningitis are vaccine-preventable.
You don’t often think about them in this way, but all of the following vaccines are available to prevent meningitis, including:
- Hib – the Haemophilus influenzae type b bacteria was a common cause of meningitis in the pre-vaccine era, in addition to causing epiglottitis and pneumonia
- Prevnar – you mean it’s not just an ear infection vaccine?
- MMR – both measles and mumps can cause meningitis
- Menactra and Menveo – serogroup A, C, W, Y meningococcal vaccines
- Bexsero and Trumenba – serogroup B meningococcal vaccines
But just because your child has been vaccinated doesn’t mean that you are in the clear if they are exposed to someone with meningitis. They might still need preventative antibiotics if they are exposed to someone with Hib or meningococcal meningitis.
Still, getting fully vaccinated on time is the best way to prevent many of these types of meningitis and other life-threatening diseases.
What to Know About Meningitis Vaccines
Learn which vaccines are available to provide protection against bacterial and viral meningitis.
More on Meningitis Vaccines
- CDC – Bacterial Meningitis
- CDC – Meningococcal Disease (Pink Book)
- AAP – Hib Infections (Red Book)
- AAP – Meningococcal Infections (Red Book)
- Meningococcal Disease: Fact Sheet
- Meningococcal Disease Questions and Answers
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) Disease Questions and Answers
- Why We Vaccinate Against Meningitis
- Five Facts about Meningococcal Disease and Prevention
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