Support research towards Meningitis and Encephalitis

Every minute there is someone in this world affected by encephalitis (brain inflammation). For meningitis (Meningitis), it is even 4 to 5 times as many. Every year, this affects millions of people, many of whom die or suffer permanent residual symptoms. That is why the ItsME Foundation was established in 2019. The "M" stands for Meningitis and the "E" stands for Encephalitis. This is about keeping the brain healthy because your brain is who you are. “It's me…”

We are raising money to enable scientific research in the fight against Meningitis and Encephalitis. This is badly needed. Together we can increase the chances of a cure, because"The power of WE is stronger than the power of ME".

Meningitis & Encefalitis

What is Meningitis?

Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis can be caused by a virus or bacteria. It is also called neck spasm. Viral inflammation is the less severe variant and usually heals within one to two weeks. Bacterial meningitis often starts as septicemia, where the bacteria infect the bloodstream. Bacterial inflammation is caused by one of three bacteria: meningococcus, pneumococcus or Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib).

The aforementioned bacteria are (harmless) in the nasopharynx. If at some point the resistance decreases, the bacteria can multiply and spread through the bloodstream. This can lead to blood poisoning (this especially applies to the meningococcus). In addition, the bacteria can enter the brain and meninges through the bloodstream and cause meningitis. The bacterium can be killed quickly with antibiotics. After contracting meningitis, people can continue to suffer from the consequences that can be different for each individual. This can occur to a greater or lesser extent.

What is Encephalitis?

Where in Meningitis the cerebral membrane (located around the brain to protect the brain) is inflamed, in Encephalitis the brain itself is inflamed. In encephalitis, nerve cells or the white matter of the brain are directly damaged. Encephalitis is usually caused by viruses, sometimes by bacteria. The most common cause is the cold sore virus, also called the herpes simplex virus. It is not known exactly why herpes simplex causes encephalitis in some people. Other viruses can also cause Encephalitis, but are more rare.

An example of this is Encephalitis Lethargica (also called sleeping sickness). An immune system response can also be a cause (Anti-NMDAR Encephalitis) and in some cases Encephalitis can be caused by a mosquito (Japanese Encephalitis). When the inflammation causes the brain to swell, the skull stops the swelling, causing the swollen brain to look for a different direction. This allows them to press down on the brainstem. From this part of the brain, vital functions such as breathing and heart rate are regulated. If this situation is left untreated, the brain pressure rises and the brainstem can stop functioning and the patient will die.

Causative Agents

Numerous viruses, bacteria & autoimmune reactions are causing ME at all ages.

  • Meningitis
  • Virus
    • Herpes simplex
    • Entero
    • Herpes simplex
    • Japanese
  • Bacteria
    • Meningococcal
    • Pneumococcal
    • Group A streptococcal
    • Group B streptococcal
    • Tuberculous (TB)
    • Hib
    • Listeria
    • E.coli
  • Auto Immune
    • Anti-NMDA receptor
    • Anti-LGI1
    • Anti-GAD
    • Casp2
  • Other
    • Fungal
    • Limbic

Facts & figures

Worldwide, nearly 10 million people a year develop Meningitis or Encephalitis. A large number of them die or have permanent residual symptoms. Meningitis mainly occurs in babies and young children (under the age of five), but adults can also get the disease.


  • Annually, approximately 2.8 million people get Meningitis, of which 303,000 with a fatal outcome.
  • Annually approximately 6.5 million people develop Encephalitis, of which 77,300 with a fatal outcome.

Estimates from the WHO Global Burden of Disease Study


  • Annually, approximately 45,000 people in Europe develop bacterial Meningitis, of which 20% dies and a total of approximately 20,000 people die or have sequelae.
  • Annually, approximately 80,000 people develop viral Meningitis, of which 1% dies and approximately 20% has residual symptoms.
  • Annually, approximately 80,000 people a year develop Encephalitis. About 11,000 patients die and about 26,000 people have residual symptoms.

The Netherlands

  • Every year approximately 1,000 Dutch people develop bacterial Meningitis, of which 20% dies.
  • For viral Meningitis, this concerns approximately 2,000 patients annually, of which 1% dies and approximately 20% has residual symptoms.
  • Encephalitis is about as common as viral meningitis, so also 2,000 people per year. Hereof an estimated 14% dies. About one third of the patients have sequelae.

An ANBI is a public benefit organization. ItsME Foundation has obtained the ANBI status in 2020 rendering your financial support deductible for tax purposes. It also means that ItsME does not have to pay tax on donations. For more information, visit the website of the Belastingdienst.