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Hastings and Prince Edward Public Health

Meningitis FAQs

What is it?

Meningitis is a disease caused by the inflammation of the protective membrane covering the brain and spinal cord known as the meninges. Bacteria or viruses may cause this infection.

What are the symptoms?

Meningitis infection is characterized by a sudden onset of fever, headache, and stiff neck. It is often accompanied by other symptoms, such as:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
  • Altered mental state

How is it spread?

Meningitis is spread through contact with respiratory secretions (saliva, sputum or nasal mucus) of an infected person. Transmission may occur through coughing, kissing or sneezing. Viral meningitis may be transmitted by the fecal-oral route. The virus is passed in the stool.

How can I protect myself?

Keeping up to date with recommended immunizations is the best defense. Good hygiene is also an important way to prevent most infections. Avoid sharing drinking glasses, water bottles, eating utensils, tissues, and lip-gloss/lipsticks. Wash hands often with soap, especially after using the washroom and before preparing food.


Heymann, D. L., (2008). Control of Communicable Diseases Manual. (19th Ed.). Washington, DC: American Public Health Association.

Meningitis Fact Sheet printable pdf

Need More Information About Meningitis FAQs?

Talk to your health care provider or call our Communicable Disease Program at 613-966-5500 or 1-800-267-2803, ext. 349.

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All individuals ≥ 5 yrs of age are eligible to receive a COVID-19 bivalent booster dose 6 months after previous COVID-19 vaccine.

Appointments can be booked through the provincial vaccine booking site, or by calling 1-833-943-3900 from 8 am to 8 pm, 7 days a week.  


For the most up to date information on current provincial guidelines and advice in case of exposure, visit

The Ministry of Health has launched a toll-free line as an additional resource to help answer questions from the public regarding evolving COVID-19 testing and isolation guidance. The line can be reached at 1-888-777-0730, and is available from 8 am to 6 pm, 7 days a week. Beginning April 3, hours for this line will change to Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.