Fungal Meningitis vs. Bacterial Meningitis and Viral Meningitis

Meningitis is an infection of the meninges, the membranes that surround the brain and the spinal cord. Meningitis can come from a virus, (viral meningitis), a fungus (fungal meningitis) or bacteria (bacterial meningitis). Meningitis can be acute or chronic, mild or severe. No matter what type of meningitis you may have, you should see a doctor immediately if you experience signs of meningitis as the results can be fatal.

Individuals with a weak immune system, such as AIDS patients or cancer patients are more at risk for contracting the disease. Patients who are taking medications known to weaken the immune system are also at a higher risk for developing meningitis than those without a compromised immune system. However, meningitis is not limited to those individuals. Anyone can be diagnosed with any of the three types of meningitis: fungal, bacterial or viral.

Fungal meningitis is not contagious and is less common than bacterial meningitis. This rare form of meningitis is caused by a fungus spreading through the bloodstream from somewhere else in the body to the spinal cord and into the central nervous system.

The fungus can be transmitted by inhaling contaminated soil. Such contaminates include bird droppings, bat droppings and decaying organic matter. Fungal meningitis can also be contracted intradermally, as with the recent outbreak in which the contaminant was directly injected into the body. More than 200 patients who received a tainted injection of the steroid methylprednisolone acetate have been diagnosed with fungal meningitis. An additional 13,000 patients are potentially at risk. Patients sickened by the contaminated steroid may be eligible to file a fungal meningitis lawsuit.

Symptoms of fungal meningitis include fever, headache, stiff nick, nausea, vomiting, and light sensitivity. Some patients may also become delusional.

There is no way to prevent fungal meningitis, but there is a way to treat it. A long course of high intravenous doses of antifungal medications is given to the patient. The duration of treatment is dependant upon the state of the patient’s immune system. Those with a weakened immune system may require a longer treatment.

Bacterial meningitis usually makes its way into the body through the nose and respiratory system. Bacterial meningitis may develop after a head injury or an infection that compromises the immune system. Babies and toddlers between the ages of one month and two years are the most susceptible to bacterial meningitis.

Adults are more at risk for developing bacterial meningitis if they suffer from alcohol abuse, chronic nose and ear infections, sickle cell disease, head injury or pneumococcal pneumonia. It is also possible to contract the infection after having a spleen removed, brain or spinal surgery, a widespread blood infection or by taking corticosteroids to treat kidney failure.
Because the disease is often spread through close personal contact, meningitis outbreaks are most common in an environment with a large concentration of people sharing small living quarters, such as a college dorm. For this reason, most colleges and universities will require all incoming freshman to receive a bacterial meningitis vaccine to live on campus.

The most common symptoms of bacterial meningitis are high fever, headaches, stiff neck, confusion, irritability, drowsiness, seizures or stroke.

In addition to the vaccine used to prevent bacterial meningitis, there are treatments available for those who have contracted the disease. These treatments often include a general intravenous antibiotic with a corticosteroid and plenty of replenishing fluids.

About 10 percent of bacterial meningitis cases are fatal. While this is disease is treatable, the most important factor in recovery is an early diagnosis and treatment. Those who believe they may have contracted bacterial meningitis, or have been in contact with anyone diagnosed, should seek immediate medical attention. This advice holds for anyone who believes they may have fungal or viral meningitis.

Viral meningitis is a fairly common disease caused by numerous viruses that spread to the meninges. In most cases, the particular virus that caused the meningitis cannot be identified. Intestinal viruses are frequently the cause of an infection. But viral meningitis can also develop from mumps or herpes virus infections. A small amount of cases are also spread from mosquitoes. Like many viral infections, some of the viruses that cause viral meningitis can be spread from close personal contact. While viral meningitis is a fairly common disease, large scale outbreaks are rare.

Symptoms of viral meningitis often develop within a week of contracting the virus. These symptoms may include fever, headache, stiff neck and fatigue, rash, sore throat and intestinal problems.

There are no specific treatments for viral meningitis at this time.

For more information on meningitis, please visit the Centers for Disease Control at To find out more about fungal meningitis lawsuits, please visit:

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