What is meningitis?

  • Meningitis is an inflammation (swelling) of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. A bacterial or viral infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord usually causes the swelling. However, injuries, cancer, certain drugs, and other types of infections also can cause meningitis. It is important to know the specific cause of meningitis because the treatment differs depending on the cause.
  • Bacterial Meningitis
    • Bacterial meningitis is serious. Some people with the infection die and death can occur in as little as a few hours. However, most people recover from bacterial meningitis. Those who do recover can have permanent disabilities, such as brain damage, hearing loss, and learning disabilities.
    • The best way to prevent bacterial meningitis is to be vaccinated.
      • Make sure you and your child are vaccinated on schedule.
  • Viral Meningitis
    • Viral meningitis (when meningitis is caused by a virus) is the most common type of meningitis. Most people get better on their own without treatment. However, anyone with symptoms of meningitis should see a doctor right away because any type of meningitis can be serious. Only a doctor can determine if someone has meningitis, what is causing it, and the best treatment.
    • There are no vaccines available in the United States to protect against non-polio enteroviruses, which are the most common cause of viral meningitis. The best way to help protect yourself and others from non-polio enterovirus infections is to
      • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers or using the toilet
      • Avoid close contact, such as touching and shaking hands, with people who are sick
      • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
      • Stay home when you are sick and keep sick children out of school

Is this a reportable illness?

  • Viral Meningitis not a reportable illness to CDPH but consult with your school nurse to confirm this diagnosis with parents or the medical provider. 
  • Bacterial Meningitis is a reportable illness to CDPH. Please work with your school nurse to confirm this diagnosis, gather the needed information and report as soon as possible but within 24 hours.

What do schools need to do next?

  • Work with CDPH to determine the next steps as they are tied to the type of pathogen that caused the illness.
    • Details can be found here.