Staphylococcal meningitis is caused by Staphylococcus bacteria. When it is caused by Staphylococcus aureus or Staphylococcus epidermidis bacteria, it usually develops as a complication of a surgical procedure, or as an infection spread by the blood from another site.
Risk factors include:
Infections of heart valves
Past infection of the brain
Past meningitis due to spinal fluid shunts
Recent brain surgery
Symptoms usually come on quickly, and may include:
Unusual posture, with the head and neck arched backwards (opisthotonos)
Signs and tests
Physical examination will usually show:
Fast heart rate
Mental status changes
For any patient who is suspected of having meningitis, it is important to perform a lumbar puncture ("spinal tap"), in which spinal fluid (known as cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF) is collected for testing.
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Jatin M. Vyas, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.