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Meningitis - meningococcal

  • Alternative Names

    Meningococcal meningitis


    Symptoms usually come on quickly, and may include:

    • Fever and chills
    • Mental status changes
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Purple, bruise-like areas (purpura)
    • Rash, pinpoint red spots (petechiae)
    • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
    • Severe headache
    • Stiff neck (meningismus)

    Other symptoms that can occur with this disease:

    • Agitation
    • Bulging fontanelles
    • Decreased consciousness
    • Poor feeding or irritability in children
    • Rapid breathing
    • Unusual posture with the head and neck arched backwards (opisthotonos)

    Signs and tests

    Physical examination will show:

    • Fast heart rate
    • Fever
    • Mental status changes
    • Rash
    • Stiff neck

    For any patient who is suspected of having meningitis, it is important to perform a lumbar puncture ("spinal tap"), in which spinal fluid (known as cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF) is collected for testing.

    Tests that may be done include:

    • Blood culture
    • Chest x-ray
    • CSF examination for cell count, glucose, and protein
    • CT scan of the head
    • Gram stain, other special stains, andculture of CSF
    • White blood cell (WBC) count