Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

What is Meningitis?

Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord (meninges).

Bacterial Meningitis is a rare but serious disease that can be fatal or result in lasting disabilities.

1 in 10 cases of bacterial meningitis in the UK are fatal. A quarter of survivors are left with long-term problems.

There are several different types and causes of meningitis, including:

  • Meningococcal bacteria — there are several different types, such as A, B, C, W, X, Y and Z
  • Pneumococcal bacteria
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) bacteria
  • Enteroviruses — usually cause mild stomach infection
  • The mumps virus
  • The herpes simplex virus — usually causes cold sores or genital herpes

Viral meningitis is the most common and least serious type. Bacterial meningitis is rare but can be very serious if not treated.

In the UK, meningococcal group B causes the majority of disease, but all of the meningococcal bacteria strains can be fatal.

infographic of different meningococcal bacteria

Adapted from Meningitis Research Foundation and Meningitis Now Data

Next article:
Find out how to set up a meningitis workshop in your community
Help Matt Dawson Tackle Meningitis Hold a disease awareness event in your community
What is meningitis?
Learn who is at risk
How can you help to prevent meningitis?
Contact us at