Meningitis remains an important and serious infection in childhood. Inflammation of the meninges is caused by a wide variety of infectious and chemical agents. The definition of inflammation in the central nervous system(CNS) includes three specific pathologic diagnoses that often are clinically indistinct: meningitis, encephalitis, and meningoencephalitis. All three entities result from a foreign agent stimulating inflammation in the CNS. Bacteria, viruses, fungi, chemical agents, and drugs such as sulfonamides and intravenous immune globulin can stimulate the cytokine cascade, leading to localized inflammation within the CNS.

Meningitis is defined as inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, including the dura, arachnoid, and pia mater. Inflammation of these membranes can cause stiff neck and neck pain upon movement, and the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shows evidence of the inflammatory response. Encephalitis involves inflammation of the cerebral cortex, with clinical symptoms ranging from slight confusion to coma. These symptoms usually...

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