Risk factors for meningitis include:

  • Skipping vaccinations. If you or your child hasn't completed the recommended childhood or adult vaccination schedule, the risk of meningitis is higher.
  • Age. Most cases of viral meningitis occur in children younger than age 5. Bacterial meningitis commonly affects people under 20, especially those living in community settings.
  • Living in a community setting. College students living in dormitories, personnel on military bases, and children in boarding schools and child care facilities are at increased risk of meningococcal meningitis. This increased risk likely occurs because the bacterium is spread by the respiratory route and tends to spread quickly wherever large groups congregate.
  • Pregnancy. If you're pregnant, you're at increased risk of contracting listeriosis — an infection caused by listeria bacteria, which also may cause meningitis. If you have listeriosis, your unborn baby is at risk, too.
  • Compromised immune system. Factors that may compromise your immune system — including AIDS, alcoholism, diabetes and use of immunosuppressant drugs — also make you more susceptible to meningitis. Removal of your spleen, an important part of your immune system, also may increase your risk.
Sept. 15, 2015