Bacterial meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia need immediate treatment with antibiotics and appropriate hospital management.
People who have come into close contact with meningococcal meningitis and/or meningococcal septicaemia require antibiotics (close contacts are people who are living or sleeping in the same household or who have intimately kissed the patient). If you have been in close contact with somebody who has contracted meningitis, seek advice from your GP or the Public Health Department.
School friends and colleagues of the patient with meningococcal disease are rarely at higher risk. The patient will have come into contact with other people during the incubation period. These people are deemed as casual contacts and they are not at any increased risk.
Viral meningitis cannot be helped by antibiotics and treatment is based on good nursing care. Recovery is normally complete, but headaches, tiredness and depression may persist for weeks or even months.
At a glance
- Antibiotics are given to kill off any meningococcal bacteria which may be carried in the back of the nose and throat. This reduces the risk of passing the bacteria on to others.
- Research suggests that not smoking may reduce the chances of contracting meningitis in your family.
- Apart from vaccines, there is no known way to protect against meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia.
- Viral meningitis does not respond to antibiotics. Treatment is based on rest and good nursing care.
- Fungal meningitis requires anti-fungal therapy and appropriate management.