In developing countries, pneumococcal meningitis kills or disables 40–75% of the children who get the disease
Meningitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the meninges, which are fluid filled membranes surrounding the brain and the spinal cord. There are several causes of meningitis, but the most common causes are infections by either bacteria or viruses.
Bacterial meningitis is generally more serious than viral meningitis. Most cases of bacterial meningitis are caused by one of three species of bacteria—Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Neisseria meningitidis.
In childhood, H. influenzae serotype B (or HiB) is typically the most common cause.
S. pneumoniae (also called pneumococcus) is typically the most severe cause of bacterial meningitis. N. meningitidis (also called meningococcus) is the most common cause of outbreaks of meningitis. In some parts of Africa, massive outbreaks of meningococcal meningitis occur regularly and affect both children and adults.
Bacterial meningitis is a very serious condition. Even with the best treatment available 5-10% of patients die; in areas where children don’t have access to prompt treatment, up to 20-50% of patients may die. Many children who survive the infection are left with permanent neurological impairments, such as hearing loss, learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and lower intelligence compared with their healthy siblings who have not had meningitis.