What are risk factors for meningitis?

Updated: Jul 16, 2019
  • Author: Rodrigo Hasbun, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Answer

Risk factors for meningitis include the following:

  • Extremes of age (< 5 or >60 years)

  • Diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney failure, adrenal insufficiency, hypoparathyroidism, or cystic fibrosis

  • Immunosuppression, which increases the risk of opportunistic infections and acute bacterial meningitis

  • HIV infection, which predisposes to bacterial meningitis caused by encapsulated organisms, primarily Streptococcus pneumoniae, and opportunistic pathogens

  • Crowding (such as that experienced by military recruits and college dorm residents), which increases the risk of outbreaks of meningococcal meningitis

  • Splenectomy and sickle cell disease, which increase the risk of meningitis secondary to encapsulated organisms

  • Alcoholism and cirrhosis

  • Recent exposure to others with meningitis, with or without prophylaxis

  • Contiguous infection (eg, sinusitis)

  • Dural defect (eg, traumatic, surgical, or congenital)

  • Thalassemia major

  • Intravenous (IV) drug abuse

  • Bacterial endocarditis

  • Ventriculoperitoneal shunt

  • Malignancy (increased risk of Listeria infection)

  • Some cranial congenital deformities


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