Meningitis – gram-negative

Alternative Names

Gram-negative meningitis

Definition of Meningitis – gram-negative

Gram-negative is an infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord (meninges) from bacteria that turn pink when exposed to a special stain (Gram-negative bacteria).

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Acute bacterial meningitis can be caused by Gram-negative bacteria. Bacteria causing Gram-negative meningitis include:

Signs and tests

A physical examination will usually show:


Treatment with antibiotics should be started as soon as possible. Ceftazidime or Cefepime is one of the most commonly used antibiotics for this type of meningitis, but other antibiotics may be used, depending on the type of bacteria.

Expectations (prognosis)

Early treatment improves the outcome. Between 40% and 80% of patients with Gram-negative meningitis do not survive. Young children and adults over age 50 have the highest risk of death.


David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Jatin M. Vyas, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 9/15/2010

Central nervous system

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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