In its early stages, meningitis can be treated with antibiotics, but once it invades the blood, death may occur within 24 hours. Complications are common, especially when the diagnosis is delayed or treatment is inadequate. Collection of fluid in the subdural area, abscess formation, hydrocephalus, and various types of neurological problems, along with mental retardation, are some of the serious consequences. Preventive vaccines are available.
Infectious meningitis comes in two common forms: viral meningitis is relatively mild; bacterial meningitis, chiefly transmitted via coughing and sneezing, is life-threatening. Meningococcal meningitis is the most common form, causing epidemics. It has been causing increasing concern in recent years owing to its changing patterns and the rise in prevalence in several parts of the world where it was previously not considered to be a public health problem.