Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord (meninges).
It can affect anyone, but is most common in babies, young children, teenagers and young adults.
Meningitis can be very serious if not treated quickly. It can cause life-threatening blood poisoning (septicaemia) and result in permanent damage to the brain or nerves.
Meningitis is usually caught from people who carry these viruses or bacteria in their nose or throat but aren’t ill themselves.
It can also be caught from someone with meningitis, but this is less common.
Infections that cause meningitis can be spread through:
- Sharing utensils, cutlery and toothbrushes