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How are encephalitis and meningitis transmitted?

Some forms of bacterial meningitis and encephalitis are contagious and can be spread through contact with saliva, nasal discharge, feces, or respiratory and throat secretions (often spread through kissing, coughing, or sharing drinking glasses, eating utensils, or such personal items as toothbrushes, lipsticks, or cigarettes). For example, people in a household, at a day care center, or in a classroom with an infected person can become infected. College students living in dormitories-in particular, college freshmen-have a higher risk of contracting meningococcal meningitis than college students overall. Children who do not have access to childhood vaccines are at increased risk of developing certain types of bacterial meningitis.

Because these diseases can occur suddenly, anyone who is suspected of having either meningitis or encephalitis should immediately contact a doctor or go to the hospital.

This answer is based on source information from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.