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Condition/Disorder Synonyms

  • Meningitis

  • Bacterial Meningitis

ICD-9 Code

  • 320.0 Hemophilus meningitis

ICD-10 Codes

  • G00.9 Bacterial meningitis, unspecified

  • A48.8 Other specified bacterial diseases

  • G00.8 Other bacterial meningitis

Preferred Practice Patterns1

Key Features


  • A type of bacterial meningitis found in the nose and throat

  • Infection of the meninges of the brain and spinal cord caused by a spread of bacteria

  • Caused by the haemophilus influenza bacteria (Hib)

    • Most common form of meningitis

    • Acquired following an upper respiratory infection

Essentials of Diagnosis

  • Bacteria contracted by exhaled droplets from an infected adult or child or by the following

    • Head injury

    • Severe local infection

    • Ear infection (otitis media)

    • Nasal sinus infection

  • Hib can enter the bloodstream and cause infection in the meninges or lungs

  • No physical test distinguishes a bacterial from a viral infection; must rely on body fluid cultures

  • If a central nervous system infection is suspected, the therapist should seek information regarding a potential source of infection or a condition that predisposed the patient to infection

General Considerations

  • Generally, bacterial meningitis is rare; secondary to vaccine

  • Individual may not know they have the bacteria


  • Usually seen in children under 5 years old

Clinical Findings

Signs and Symptoms

  • Severity and extent causes a wide range of neurologic signs and symptoms, generally non-focal in nature

  • Flu-like symptoms

  • Pneumonia

  • Swollen throat, difficulty breathing

  • Headache

  • Stiff neck

  • Skin rash

  • Change in mental status (confusion, delirium)

  • Fever or hypothermia

  • Malaise

  • Impaired heart, lung, liver, kidney function

  • Seizure, generalized convulsions

  • Sensory deficit/change

  • Motor deficit/change

  • With increased intracranial pressure, papilledema may develop

  • With prolonged infection, cranial nerves may become affected

Functional Implications

  • Loss of mobility temporarily with permanent loss possible

  • Loss of hearing/vestibular function in some cases

  • Loss of coordination, fine and gross motor temporarily with permanent loss possible

  • Loss of independence with activities of daily living

  • Reduced cognitive function, particularly executive functions

Possible Contributing Causes

  • Severe sinus infection

  • HIV/AIDS, immunosuppressive

  • Removal of spleen

  • Sickle cell disease

  • Bone marrow transplant

  • Cranial or spinal surgery

  • Shunt placement

  • Open head injury

  • Dural tears from remote trauma

  • Ruptured brain abscess

Differential Diagnosis


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