Meningitis - staphylococcal
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Meningitis - staphylococcal


Staphylococcal meningitis is an infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord (meninges), caused by Staphylococcus bacteria.

Alternative Names

Staphylococcal meningitis


Meningitis caused by Staphylococcus aureus or S. epidermidis usually develops as a complication of a surgical procedure, or as an infection spread by the blood from another site.

Risk factors include recent brain surgery, previous meningitis associated with spinal fluid shunts, infections of heart valves, or previous infection of the brain itself.


  • Fever
  • Severe headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stiff neck
  • Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
  • Rash

Exams and Tests

For any patient with meningitis, it is important to perform a lumbar puncture (spinal tap), where a sample of spinal fluid (known as cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF) is obtained and sent to the lab for testing.

  • High white blood cell count in blood and spinal fluid
  • Spinal fluid stains and culture showing bacteria
  • Blood culture growing Staphylococcus


Antibiotic therapy should be started as soon as possible to decrease the chances of serious illness or death. Often, treatment of the infection will include a search for, and removal of, possible sources of the bacteria in the body. These include shunts or artificial heart valves.

Outlook (Prognosis)

This form of infection in people with depressed immune systems can be very serious, and often leads to death. Recognition of the symptoms of meningitis is very important to prevent serious illness.

Staphylococcal meningitis often improves more rapidly, with better results, if the source of the infection (shunts, hardware in joints, or artificial heart valves) is removed.

Possible Complications

Patients may develop a brain infection or staph infections at other parts of the body. Serious bleeding and shock may develop.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if symptoms of meningitis occur. This disease can be life-threatening.


Prophylactic (preventive) use of antibiotics in high-risk people, before diagnostic or surgical procedures, may help to reduce risk in certain situations. Discuss this with your doctor.

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