Meningitis refers to an inflammation of the meninges, which are the three membranes surrounding the brain and the spinal cord. Meningitis occurs when the fluid surrounding the meninges becomes infected with viral or bacterial infections. The condition could also be triggered by drug allergies, cancer or fungal infection. Certain infections that cause meningitis are contagious, transmitting from one patient to another via coughing, sneezing or close contact. Meningitis can afflict patients of any age. Early detection and treatment are crucial to prevent complications.