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Diagnosing Bacterial & Viral Meningitis in Northern California

Meningitis is a viral and bacterial infection that causes inflammation of the membranes (meninges) and fluid (cerebrospinal fluid or CSF) that surround the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis can be caused by a virus or bacteria. Either form is a serious illness that can have potentially life-threatening complications if left untreated. You should seek medical care as soon as possible for meningitis.

At Dignity Health North State, our emergency room (ER) doctors offer immediate diagnosis and treatment for bacterial and viral meningitis in Northern California, as part of our emergency services

Before going to an ER, you can use the InQuicker online tool to select your estimated arrival time, then wait at home until you’re ready to be seen. Dignity Health North State provides emergency care at these locations:


Meningitis Symptoms

The severity of your symptoms may depend on the type of meningitis you have. Bacterial and viral meningitis symptoms are very similar, but viral meningitis may be less severe.

Symptoms of meningitis can include:

  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stiff neck
  • Irritability
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Lethargy and fatigue
  • Rash
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Changes in mental state or behavior
  • Seizures

In infants, additional symptoms may include a bulging soft spot on the head, more-than-normal fussiness, not eating, cold hands and feet, and blotchy skin. See your doctor right away if you witness any of these signs.


Meningitis Causes

Viral and bacterial meningitis are caused by enteroviruses and bacteria that spread through coughing, kissing, and hand-to-mouth contact. You can also get meningitis through contact with fecal matter

of an infected baby. Meningitis can spread easily in close-quarter living situations, such as dormitories, classrooms, and military barracks.


Meningitis Treatment at Dignity Health North State

Treatment for meningitis depends on the cause. For more mild cases of viral or bacterial meningitis, Dignity Health North State doctors may recommend rest, drinking plenty of fluids, and taking pain relieving and fever-reducing medications. For severe meningitis, emergency care may include hospitalization, intravenous (IV) fluids, and other supportive treatment. 

The best way to prevent meningitis is to practice regular hand washing. Together with a Dignity Health North State provider, you can learn prevention strategies to keep you and your family healthy and safe.

Dignity Health North State offers emergency care for bacterial and viral meningitis in Mt. Shasta, Red Bluff, and Redding, CA.