Bacterial meningitis is a highly contagious and serious disease that affects the central nervous system. Long term complications of this disease are severe, and potentially deadly. Permanent brain damage, hearing and vision problems, disability and seizures are just a few of the life changing side effects that survivors of the disease face. Children with bacterial meningitis experience these consequences, and in some cases also experience life-long behavioral and intellectual deficits. Bacterial meningitis is caused by inflammation to membranes, or meninges, that cover the brain and spinal cord. When this occurs, pressure inside the skull swells which blocks blood flow and deprives the brain of oxygen. At the onset of symptoms, bacterial meningitis must be properly diagnosed, and antibiotics prescribed quickly. Even with clear symptoms, the disease can be misdiagnosed as another strain of meningitis or as an entirely different illness. Viral meningitis, strep throat and encephalitis are diseases that produce the same symptoms. A spinal tap is typically the only real way for a doctor to correctly diagnose bacterial meningitis. Each year there are at least 4,000 reported cases of bacterial meningitis, 500 of which are fatal. Less than half of all cases present with the classic diagnostic signs, making them more difficult to diagnose. Most misdiagnosed bacterial meningitis cases involve a doctor prescribing the wrong medication or treatment. This amplifies symptoms and can lead to greater complications, and in some cases, death.