Epidemic meningitis


Epidemic meningitis is a bacterial disease. It is found throughout the world but is most common in western and central sub-Saharan Africa. The disease is unusual but life-threatening and can also cause lasting problems. You can vaccinate yourself against epidemic meningitis.

Epidemic meningitis is also called infectious meningitis. The disease is caused by different types of meningococcal bacteria.

Symptoms of epidemic meningitis

It usually takes a week from you become infected to get sick, but most people have the bacteria without being sick.

You get one or more of the following symptoms of epidemic brain inflammation:

  • Severe headache.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Sensitivity to sound and light.
  • Fever and bleeding in the skin that looks like red rashes or bruises.
  • Neck stiffness.

You may also have cramps or become unconscious.

This is how epidemic meningitis infects

The bacterium infects easily and is transmitted above all with saliva or drip infection. It is spread, for example, with kisses and when someone coughs or sneezes. When a sick person sneezes or coughs, a cloud of small droplets is formed with the virus. The droplets fall onto surfaces or objects and from there the virus can spread. You can also be infected directly by a sick person sneezing at you. This means that more people in a family are more easily infected.

The disease is found worldwide

The disease is found worldwide but is most common in western and central sub-Saharan Africa during the dry season, which is usually December to June.

How can I prevent epidemic meningitis?

It is unusual to be infected with epidemic meningitis even if you travel in countries where the disease is present. It depends on your age, what country you travel to, how long you will be there, what kind of activities you plan to do and what time of year you travel.

There are vaccines against several types of epidemic meningitis that you can take before a trip abroad. Children from two months of age to adults can be vaccinated.


Epidemic meningitis is treated with antibiotics directly into the bloodstream.
You who are related to the person who has been infected also receive antibiotics for preventive purposes.


Most people usually recover after treatment with antibiotics. But there is a risk of permanent damage.

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