What is meningitis?

Meningitis is a viral (aseptic) or bacterial (septic) infection of the meninges, membranes that wrap all the way around the brain and spinal cord, and act to contain the cerebrospinal fluid in which the brain is supported.

The diagnosis of both viral or bacterial meningitis is confirmed by taking a sample of cerebrospinal fluid from the lower end of the spine (which is an extension of the brain) and examining it under a microscope for the presence of certain cells and it can be cultured to find the responsible bacteria.

Blood tests also show abnormalities.

Illustration showing cerebrospinal fluid of brain with meningitis

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