Bacterial meningitis is very serious and can be deadly. Death can occur in as little as a few hours. Most people recover from meningitis. However, permanent disabilities (such as brain damage, hearing loss, and learning disabilities) can result from the infection. Several types of bacteria can cause meningitis. Leading causes in the United States include Streptococcus pneumoniae, Group B Streptococcus, Neisseria meningitidis, Haemophilus influenzae, Listeria monocytogenes. These bacteria can also be associated with another serious illness, sepsis. Sepsis is the body’s extreme response to infection. Without timely treatment, sepsis can quickly lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death. Generally, the germs that cause bacterial meningitis spread from one person to another. Certain germs, such as L. monocytogenes, can spread through food. How people spread the germs often depends on the type of bacteria. It is also important to know that people can have these bacteria in or on their bodies without being sick. These people are “carriers.” Most carriers never become sick, but can still spread the bacteria to others.