Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

What is Meningitis?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Meningitis

Mains level: NA

The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched the first-ever global strategy to defeat meningitis, a debilitating disease that kills hundreds of thousands of people each year.

What is Meningitis?

  • Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord.
  • People of any age can get meningitis.

What Causes Meningitis?

  • Most cases are caused by bacteria or viruses, but some can be due to certain medicines or illnesses.
  • Meningitis is usually caused by a viral infection but can also be bacterial or fungal.
  • Both kinds of meningitis spread like most other common infections do — someone who’s infected touches, kisses, or coughs or sneezes on someone who isn’t infected.
  • Bacterial meningitis is rare, but is usually serious and can be life-threatening if not treated right away.
  • Viral meningitis (also called aseptic meningitis) is more common than bacterial meningitis and usually less serious.
  • Many of the viruses that cause meningitis are common, such as those that cause colds, diarrhea, cold sores, and the flu.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Meningitis?

  • Meningitis symptoms vary, depending on the person’s age and the cause of the infection.
  • The first symptoms can come on quickly or start several days after someone has had a cold, diarrhea, vomiting, or other signs of an infection.

Common symptoms include:

  • fever
  • lack of energy
  • irritability
  • headache
  • sensitivity to light
  • stiff neck
  • skin rash


  • Several vaccines protect against meningitis, including meningococcal, Haemophilus influenzae type b and pneumococcal vaccines.
  • If dealt with quickly, meningitis can be treated successfully.


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