5 types of meningitis in Kenya


Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround your brain and spinal cord (meninges).

It can affect anyone, but is most common in babies, young children, teenagers and young adults.

Meningitis can be very serious if not treated quickly. It can cause life-threatening blood poisoning (septicaemia) and result in permanent damage to the brain or nerves.

In Kenya, meningitis has been recorded in sporadic outbreaks fueled by droughts and displacement of populations in the northern part of the country.


  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Headache and a stiff neck
  • Muscle pain
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Mental confusion
  • Cold hands or feet and mottled skin (skin that has patchy and irregular colours)

Types of meningitis in Kenya

1. Bacterial


It is a potentially life-threatening disease that can cause serious complications such as brain damage, hearing loss, and ultimately death if not diagnosed and treated promptly.

This form of meningitis usually occurs when bacteria gets into the bloodstream and travels to the brain and spinal cord. But it can also occur when bacteria directly invade the meninges.

2. Viral


This tends to be less severe, and most people recover completely without treatment.

This form of meningitis can be spread by faecal contamination, typically when proper hand washing isn’t practiced after changing diapers or using the toilet.

The entero viruses that cause viral meningitis can also spread through eye, nose, and mouth secretions, or blister fluid

3. Fungal


It is a rare form of the disease that occurs when a fungus enters the bloodstream.

Anyone can get this form of the disease, but people with a weakened immune system are at an increased risk.

Fungal meningitis is most often caused by inhaling fungal spores from contaminated soil or from bird or bat droppings.

4. Parasitic


It is also a rare form of the disease that causes a brain infection that progresses rapidly and is usually fatal.

It is caused by certain types of parasites. However, this is very rare.

The most common cause of parasitic meningitis is an amoeba called Naegleria fowleri.

5. Non infectious


Usually caused by something other than the bacteria that typically cause acute meningitis.

It mainly occurs as the result of cancer, lupus, a head injury, brain surgery, or from certain medications. It can not be spread from one person to another.


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