Meningitis Fast Facts

HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 15:  People receive a free meningitis vaccine from  Dr. Wayne Chen at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation pharmacy on April 15, 2013 in Hollywood, California. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation started free meningitis vaccines after a West Hollywood man died from the disease.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

(CNN)Here's a look at meningitis outbreaks in the United States.

General Information:
Meningitis is caused by the inflammation of the protective membranes (known as meninges) covering the brain and spinal cord. The inflammation is typically caused by an infection of the fluid surrounding these areas.
    Bacterial meningitis is contagious, and comes in a number of different strains.
    Viral meningitis is less severe and occurs more frequently than bacterial meningitis.
    Fungal, viral, parasitic, and non-infectious meningitis are not contagious, and do not spread from person to person.
    Fungal and parasitic meningitis are rare.
    Usual Causes:
    The most common causes of meningitis are viral infections, when a virus travels to the brain after entering the system through nose or the mouth. This form of the disease is spread through fecal contamination and improper hand-washing.
    Bacterial meningitis starts with an infection similar to a cold and spreads via respiratory and throat secretions, like saliva and phlegm.
    People contract fungal meningitis by inhaling affected spores.
    Contamination of food, water and soil can lead to parasitic meningitis.
    Non-infectious meningitis can be caused by physical injury, cancer, systemic lupus and certain drugs.
    Enteroviruses, the most common cause of viral meningitis, are most often spread from person to person through fecal contamination or through respiratory secretions of an infected person.
    Symptoms and Treatment:
    Symptoms usually present themselves quickly for some types of meningitis and include high fever and chills, mental status changes, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light, headaches and a stiff neck.
    Bacterial meningitis is treated with antibiotics.
    Viral meningitis is treated with bed rest, plenty of fluids and pain medication for body aches.
    Fungal meningitis is treated with anti-fungal medications.
    Parasitic meningitis is less common, and most cases have proven fatal.
    Frequent hand-washing.
    Regular exercise and eating healthy to maintain a stable immune system.
    Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough.
    Timeline of recent outbreaks in the U.S.:
    In 2012, a multi-state outbreak of fungal meningitis associated with contaminated steroid injections for pain management was linked to a Framingham, Massachusetts-based medical company called the New England Compounding Center. The outbreak infected 751 people in 20 states, killing 64. This is the deadliest meningitis outbreak in U.S. history.
    May 21, 2012 - First batch of contaminated steroid injections.
    September 18, 2012 - The first case of meningitis is reported in Tennessee.
    September 26, 2012 - NECC recalls three lots of the steroid injections.
    October 4, 2012 - FDA confirms fungi is in the NECC injections.
    October 6, 2012 - NECC expands the recall.
    October 19, 2012 - By this date, more than 99% of patients with potential exposure have been contacted.
    November 18, 2013 - The Senate approves a bill to improve safety of compounded drugs.
    October 29, 2014 - The FDA announces the approval of the vaccine Trumenba. It protects against one of the five forms of bacterial meningitis.
    December 17, 2014 - Pharmacists Barry J. Cadden and Glenn Chin, of the New England Compounding Center (NECC), are charged with 25 acts of second-degree murder, in relation to the 20 state meningitis outbreak in 2012 that killed 64 people. The victims contracted fungal meningitis after receiving contaminated injections linked to the NECC pharmacy. Twelve others are also charged in the 131-count indictment, which includes charges of mail fraud, racketeering and conspiracy.
    June 8, 2016 - The trial is delayed until January 2017.