Hi there and thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed, internship-trained veterinarian with 10 years experience in general medicine and emergency and critical care medicine and I would be happy to assist you.
This all depends on the type of meningitis. The definition of meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the layer of tissue that covers the brain
and spinal cord. It can happen for a number of reasons.
In dogs, the most common form of meningitis is known as "steroid responsive" meningitis. The name is ***** ***** the fact that the inflammation can be treated by using corticosteroids and because the reason it occurs is not known. In one study published in 1995, the author could not find a specific cause for meningitis in about 33% of the cases. This problem normally occurs in young dogs but they are usually older than four months of age.
There are a bunch of other causes of meningitis, including viral infections, bacterial infections, fungal infections and parasites. There are several meningitis syndromes that are not clearly understood, other than steroid responsive meningitis. Granulomatous meningoencephalitis
of older dogs is an example of one of these conditions.
The two viral diseases in dogs that are known to cause meningitis are distemper
and parvovirus, with distemper being much more likely to be the culprit in viral meningitis. If your dog is vaccinated, these two viruses should not be a concern.
Bacterial infections that can lead to meningitis include staphylococcal infections, pasteurellosis and sometimes other bacteria. The biggest problem with bacterial meningitis is that it is hard for antibiotics to penetrate the blood/brain barrier so it is sometimes necessary to use antibiotics for a really long time in order to control these infections.
Most (possibly all) of the systemic fungal infections such as histoplasmosis and blastomycosis can cause meningitis.
Fortunately, in dogs, there does not seem to be a highly contagious meningitis (other than distemper virus, which doesn't survive well in the environment). It seems that there is very little risk to your dog or to you humans. If your dog is up to date on vaccines, I would not worry.
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