Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, the protective covering that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Most commonly caused by a viral infection, it may also result from infection with bacteria or fungus. Bacterial meningitis is usually more severe than viral meningitis and can lead to hearing loss, learning disabilities, and brain damage. If not treated promptly, it can be deadly. This revised edition of Meningitis contains the most current information on the causes, spread, treatment, and prevention of the disease, as well as new illustrations and new case studies. Updates cover recent meningitis outbreaks, which are a persistent problem in schools and on college campuses, and a recently approved method of diagnosing meningitis more quickly.