Being hygiene can prevent the spread of viral and bacterial meningitis. Proper hand washing technique can help you avoid exposure to infectious agents. Use soap to wash your hands and rub them vigorously for 10 to 20 seconds, covering both the front and back of each hand. Make sure you also clean under fingernails. Rinse your hands thoroughly under running water and then dry them on a paper towel or your own clean towel. Proper hand washing can remove fecal contamination after toileting, changing diapers, assisting toddlers with toileting and so forth. This will help prevent viral meningitis.
- Bacteria or viruses that cause meningitis can spread through coughing and sneezing, so persons should cover their noses and mouths when sneezing or coughing and discard used tissues promptly.
- Avoid sharing straws, cups, glasses, toothbrush, cigarettes, etc. Eating and drinking utensils should be washed before other persons use them.
- Discourage persons from kissing an infant, toddler or child on the mouth.
To prevent the transmission of bacterial meningitis, doctors may give antibiotics to family members and other people who have had close contact with patients who develop the disease. Vaccinations can also be given to prevent some forms of bacterial meningitis.
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine. It was introduced during the 1980s and has been a part of routine childhood immunization in the United States since 1990. Children, starting at about 2 months of age, can receive this vaccine. This vaccine is also recommended for adults, especially those who have sickle cell disease or AIDS and those who don’t have a spleen.
- Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4). This vaccine is used against Neisseria meningitides, a bacterium that causes meningitis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends meningococcal vaccine for: all children ages 11-18 or certain younger high-risk children; anyone who has been exposed to meningitis during an outbreak; anyone traveling to or living where meningitis is common; military recruits; and people with certain immune system disorders or a damaged or missing spleen.
- Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7). The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine covers seven different serotypes or strains of the pneumococcal bacteria, which are responsible for most invasive disease in children under two years of age. The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is part of the regular immunization schedule for children younger than 2 years in the United States. This vaccine is also recommended for children between the ages of 2 and 5 who are at high risk of pneumococcal disease, including children who have chronic heart or lung disease or cancer.
- Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV). This vaccine can be given to older children and adults who need protection from pneumococcal bacteria. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine for all adults older than 65, for younger adults and children who have weak immune systems or chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes or sickle cell anemia, and for those who don’t have a spleen.