Meningits – How Is It Transmitted?

Meningitis is the inflammation of the meninges covering the brain and the spinal cord. It is also defined as infection of the Pia-arachnoid mater that covers the brain and the spinal cord.

The shared types of meningitis include:

1. Viral meningitis

2. Pneumococcal meningitis

3. Meningococcal meningitis

4. Tuberculous meningitis

5. Septic meningitis (As a consequence of streptococcus infection following Otitis Media, Head injury, Mastoiditis, etc)

6. Others include those caused by Escherichia Coli, staphylococci and haemophilus influenzae. Meningitis is generally grouped into bacterial and viral meningitis.


Meningitis is caused by pneumococcus, streptococcus, meningococcus (Neisseria Meningitidis), staphylococcus, E. coli, etc


Both sexes are equally prone to attack. It affects mainly children and young adults. Most often it occurs as epidemics. However, meningococcal meningitis is endemic worldwide and it is the most infectious of all types of meningitis.

Mode of transmission

Meningitis is mostly transmitted by direct contact with bodily discharges (urine, nasal secretions, etc) of the sufferer. It is an airborne disease (by inhalation of droplet particles). It can also occur following bacteraemia from infectious agents traveling by the blood and choroids plexus.

It can also be by direct invasion as occurs in acute otitis media, mastoiditis, orbital cellulites, upper respiratory tract infection and osteomyelitis.

It may sometimes develop from contamination during the administration of spinal anaesthesia, lumbar puncture or surgical procedures involving the central nervous system, and head injury. The commonest route of transmission is by the respiratory tract. It is consequently an infectious disease.

Incubation period

This depends on the causative organism. Usually it takes about 48hrs for signs and symptoms to manifest. Haemophilus meningitis is insidious in onset and the patient’s condition usually gets worse over a period of 4 to 5 days. Meningococcal meningitis however has a very rapid onset and can cause death within 8-12hours.

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