What Are the Causes of Spinal Meningitis?


The Mayo Clinic states that viruses and bacteria cause most cases of spinal meningitis. In rare cases, fungi, chemical reactions, inflammatory diseases, cancer and drug allergies cause the condition.

The Mayo Clinic maintains that a viral infection causes most cases of spinal meningitis. Viral meningitis is usually mild and heals without treatment. Bacterial meningitis is more severe and requires treatment with antibiotics. Streptococcus pneumoniae and neisseria meningitidis are the strains of bacteria that cause pneumococcus and meningococcus meningitis respectively. Both are preventable by vaccination. Haemophilus influenzae, which causes haemophilus meningitis, is another variety preventable by vaccine. Listeria monocytogenes, a bacteria found in processed meats and soft cheeses, causes listeria, a rare form of meningitis. Most healthy individuals are not affected by the listeria bacteria, but pregnant women and those who are immunocompromised need to avoid foods that could be contaminated.

According to the Mayo Clinic, fungal forms of spinal meningitis are most common in those with weakened immune systems. They are treatable with anti-fungal medications. Meningitis from non-infectious causes, such as cancer or drugs, is not contagious. Its treatment depends on the cause and often includes cortisone injections to reduce inflammation. In many cases, non-infectious meningitis clears up on its own when the cause is removed or relieved.