Meningitis is inflammation of the coverings around the brain and spinal cord. It is usually caused by an infection. There are two main kinds of meningitis: (a) Viral meningitis is fairly common. It usually does not cause serious illness. In severe cases, it can cause prolonged fever and seizures. (b) Bacterial meningitis is not as common but is very serious. It needs to be treated right away to prevent brain damage and death. Meningitis is contagious. The germs that cause it can be passed from one person to another through coughing and sneezing and also close contact.