Meningitis: An Overview

This information is useful for children, adults, and older adults
woman in college dorm has meningitis
Why Yale Medicine?
  • Our clinicians work closely with clinical labs to identify the cause of meningitis.
  • We are one of the few health systems that have a standalone laboratory medicine department.
  • Physicians and health staff are trained to prevent the spread of meningitis to others.

You may have heard about a meningitis outbreak that occurred at a nursing home or college dorm. That's partly because some strains of this condition, which is the inflammation and swelling of protective tissue covering the brain and spinal cord, can be highly contagious. Meningitis is spread through bacteria, virus and fungus. Because it affects such important areas of the body like the brain and spinal cord, it needs to be detected early and treated rapidly. 

Yale Medicine is one of few medical institutions in the country with a dedicated laboratory medicine department. With its highly collaborative approach to patient care, we can diagnose and treat meningitis quickly and effectively. “The challenge is in balancing those quick methods, which tend to be less definitive, with those more definitive methods, which tend to take more time," says David Peaper, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of laboratory medicine at Yale School of Medicine and director of the Virology Reference Laboratory and Clinical Microbiology Laboratory at Yale New Haven Hospital.