Is Spinal Meningitis Contagious?

Spinal meningitis is a disease where the meninges, or the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord, become inflamed. There are two main types of meningitis. Both can be contagious or develop as a complication of another illness or condition.

Bacterial Meningitis

Bacterial meningitis can be contagious. The bacteria is spread from person to person through kissing coughing or just breathing the air of an infected person, according to the Centers for Disease Control.


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Bacterial meningitis is rare, but a very severe illness that can cause brain damage and rarely death. Early treatment with antibiotics is very important. There is a vaccination available to prevent the infection.

Viral Meningitis

Viral meningitis is contagious and is more prevalent in the late summer and early fall. It is a mild illness that more commonly infects children and young adults.


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Viral meningitis can be spread from person-to-person contact or from the stools of an infected person. The virus can stay alive on the surface of an object that an infected person has sneezed on, touched or coughed on for several days, according to the Centers for Disease Control.


If someone in your household has meningitis, your doctor may want to give preventive antibiotics to everyone in the home to prevent them from getting infected as well, according to the Centers for Disease Control.