Other organisms or conditions that cause meningitis

In rare cases, meningitis can be caused by conditions or organisms other than viruses and bacteria. These include:

  • The fungi Cryptococcus neoformans and Candida albicans. Cryptococcus neoformans causes meningitis in people who have acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Candida albicans usually causes infections in the mouth and the vagina.
  • The organisms that cause syphilis (Treponema pallidum) and Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi).
  • Certain amoebas (Naegleria fowleri and Acanthamoeba) found in contaminated water and soil. If these amoebas enter the body and are not treated quickly, they can cause serious and possibly fatal meningitis.
  • Certain parasites carried by rats and found in contaminated food.
  • Some medicines. Why some people develop meningitis when they take certain medicines is not known. Meningitis goes away when the medicine is stopped:
    • Carbamazepine (Tegretol)
    • Co-trimoxazole (Bactrim, Septra, TMP-SMX)
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs (for example, ibuprofen or naproxen)
    • Levamisole (Ergamisol)
    • Metronidazole (Flagyl)
  • Other substances such as immune globulin, mumps vaccine, and rubella vaccine.

Last Updated: December 24, 2008

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