Meningitis, inflammation of the membranes which invest the brain and spinal cord. The most common form of meningitis is that which is associated with tubercular disease, and which particularly affects the membranes at the base of the brain. The early symptoms of tubercular meningitis (acute hydrocephalus, as it is sometimes called) are headache, vomiting, and some degree of fever. In the second stage the patient becomes drowsy, the fever diminishes, the breathing is often irregular, various eye symptoms appear, and what is known as the hydrocephalic cry may be present. In the third stage the patient becomes comatose, and convulsions and paralysis often occur. The disease generally lasts about a fortnight, and the symptoms are so variable that there is sometimes much difficulty in diagnosis. Optic neuritis is frequently present, and may furnish a clue to the nature of the malady; another symptom, to which some importance has been attached, is the "tache cerebrate"; this phenomenon, however, may manifest itself quite independently of meningitis. In cases of tubercular meningitis there is often evidence of the deposit of tubercle in other parts of the body. Recovery from the disease is very rare.
Meningitis sometimes occurs altogether independently of tubercular mischief. It may be set up by injury. Cases of simple meningitis sometimes recover. A form of disease, known as epidemic cerebro-spinal-meningitis, has been described as occurring during the present century in France, Ireland, the United States, and other countries. This disease is said to be infectious. It is very rarely met with in this country.