Meningitis is a viral or bacterial infeection of the membranes arounf the spinal cord and brain. Viral and bacterial meningitis affects the Central Nervous System, and is incredibly painful, and makes the person feel really sick.

The CNS (Central Nervous System) is protected from the outside better than the respiratory or digestive system, and has the protection of semi permeable membranes with no direct contact from the environment.

Possible routes for infections to the nervous system enter via the blood stream are:

From the nose and the eyes

Complications of meningitis can include:

  • Hearing loss
  • Seizures
  • Memory problems
  • Vision loss (total or partial)
  • A general infection in the blood eg vireamia or septicaemia

For a general infection:

Once the micro – organism has already invaded a different system, it is easier to enter the Central Nervous System, making multiple causative micro-organisms for meninigitis, thus making it important to understand the cause before medical treatment can be effective. Nursing of a meningitis patients however starts as soon as interaction with the patient starts.  

There have also been cases of amputations and arthritis although these are less often, and with more severe infections. 

There are two main groups of meningitis


Causative agent

Infectious time




encephalomyo-carditis virus already in the system:


Mumps virus


Herpes virus

Depends on the causative agent



Meningococcal Meningitis


Neisseria meningitidis


E Coli

Streptococcus pneumonae

24 – 48 hours after effective antibiotic treatment has been started the person is no longer infectious



While N. Meningitidis is still found in nasal and throat secretions







Treatment and support for complications from Meningitis:

It is important to understand that these are POSSIBLE complications, not definite. If they occur, then it is highly traumatic for the person, and they and the family need support an care.

Possible support needed:

Cochlear implants for deafness


Practical help for issues like epilepsy and amputations, where wheelchairs might be needed. 

Vision areas - contact SANCB and SA Guide dogs for information on studying while visually impaired, technical devices used for helping use computers. 












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