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The brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system (CNS). The peripheral nervous system includes sensory nerves, which convey sensations to the CNS, and motor nerves, which carry messages from the CNS to parts of the body and cause them to act. The cerebro-spinal fluid fills cavities within the brain and flows out over the brain and spinal cord. Inflammation of the meninges, membranes covering the brain, is

Chapter 26 Nervous System Infections called meningitis. Infection can reach the CNS via the bloodstream, via the nerves, or by extension from bone. Infectious diseases of the central nervous system are uncommon compared with infections elsewhere in the body. Antimicrobial medicines are effective in central nervous system infections only if they can cross the blood-brain barrier.

■ What are the main entry routes for infections of the central nervous system?

■ Why is it uncommon that infectious agents pass from the bloodstream to the CNS?

■ Why can an infection in the brain's ventricles usually be detected in spinal fluid obtained from the lower back?

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