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Most cases of canine meningitis are caused by secondary complications of diseases that start elsewhere in the body, including viral, protozoan, bacterial, parasitic or fungal infections. The causative agent can be anything that triggers inflammation in a particular dog. Some known causes are infected bite wounds on the head and neck and bacterial migration to the brain from infected sinuses, nasal passages, middle ears or elsewhere. Meningitis can also be aseptic, which means that it is caused by a non-bacterial disease of unknown origin. Aseptic meningitis tends to affect young, large-breed dogs between 4 and 24 months of age. Meningitis is an extremely serious condition that should not be taken lightly.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) within the . Department of Health and Human Services, conducts and supports a wide range of research on neurological disorders, including meningitis and encephalitis. Current research efforts include gaining a better understanding of how the central nervous system responds to inflammation and to better understand the molecular mechanisms involved in the protection and disruption of the blood-brain barrier, which could lead to the development of new treatments for several neuroinflammatory diseases such as meningitis and encephalitis. A possible therapeutic approach under investigation involves testing neuroprotective compounds that block the damage that accumulates after the infection, and how the inflammation of meningitis and encephalitis can lead to potential complications including loss of cognitive function and dementia.