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Meningitis is a serious, sometimes life-threatening, infection of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and meninges. The meninges are the tissue layers that protect and cover the spinal cord and brain. There are several types of meningitis, including viral and bacterial.
At Dignity Health Central California, our emergency services are staffed by board-certified, personal doctors and registered nurses trained in emergency medicine. Wait at home, not the ER, with InQuicker, our ER waiting service.
You should see a doctor as soon as possible for symptoms of meningitis in Central California. Call 911 immediately if you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of a life-threatening emergency.
Viral meningitis is the most common form of meningitis. It can develop slowly over a few weeks or it can come on suddenly. Bacterial meningitis is usually more severe than viral meningitis. It develops suddenly from a bacterial infection.
Symptoms of meningitis include:
Infants with meningitis may have a bulging soft spot, refuse to eat, and be fussy.
What Causes Meningitis?
Bacterial meningitis is usually caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae or Neisseria meningitidis. These bacteria spread by sneezing, coughing, and kissing. Living in close quarters, such as military barracks and college dormitories, can promote the spread of these germs.
Viral meningitis is commonly due to infection by an enterovirus. It spreads by coughing, hand-to-mouth contact, and contact with infected fecal matter, such as when changing a diaper.
Washing your hands regularly can help prevent meningitis. It’s especially important to do so before touching your mouth or eating and after changing diapers and using the bathroom. A vaccine is available to prevent Neisseria meningitidis — the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in the US.
Meningitis Treatment at Dignity Health Central California
Treatment for all forms of meningitis usually includes rest and over-the-counter medications for fever and pain. You should drink plenty of fluids to replenish those lost from being sick. Depending on the amount of fluid loss, you may need intravenous (IV) fluids.
Doctors closely monitor anyone who has been exposed to meningitis and will sometimes recommended preventative treatment even if symptoms have not appeared.
Because bacterial meningitis is usually more severe, treatment is often more extensive than for viral meningitis. Treatment of bacterial meningitis includes:
- Intensive monitoring for complications, such as seizures, brain swelling, and coma
- Hospitalization, usually in an intensive care unit (ICU)
- IV antibiotics
See one of our trusted experts at Dignity Health Central California immediately if you’ve been exposed to meningitis or have symptoms of meningitis. We can provide the fast, personalized treatment you need.
Dignity Health Central California offers emergency treatment for all forms of meningitis in Bakersfield, Merced, San Andreas, and Stockton, CA.