Meningitis – pneumococcal

Alternative Names

Pneumococcal meningitis

Definition of Meningitis – pneumococcal

Pneumococcal meningitis is an infection that causes swelling and irritation (inflammation) of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord (meninges).

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Pneumococcal meningitis is caused by the bacterium (also called pneumococcus). The bacteria is the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in adults, and the second most common cause of meningitis in children older than age 2.


Symptoms usually come on quickly, and may include:

Signs and tests

Physical examination will usually show:


Treatment with antibiotics should be started as soon as possible. Ceftriaxone is one of the most commonly used antibiotics.

Expectations (prognosis)

Early treatment improves the outcome. However, 20% of people who get this disease will die of it and 25 – 50% will have serious long-term brain and nervous system (neurologic) complications.


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

Pneumococci organism
Pneumococcal pneumonia

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

Article written by

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission ( URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability.