What are the symptoms of meningococcal disease?

Symptoms of meningococcal disease are related to the site of infection. Inflammation of the meninges (the tissues that enclose the brain and spinal cord) accounts for some of the key symptoms of meningococcal meningitis, such as headache, sensitivity to light, and neck stiffness.

Symptoms of meningococcemia are widespread throughout the body. A rash may be present, as well as changes in mood, such as irritability or anxiety. Nausea may also occur. At first, however, there may be few or only subtle symptoms.

Common symptoms of meningococcal meningitis

Common symptoms of meningococcal meningitis include:

  • Fever
  • Generalized aches and pains
  • Headache
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Irritability in children
  • Loss of appetite or poor feeding in children and infants
  • Malaise or lethargy
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Neck stiffness
  • Rash

Common symptoms of meningococcemia

Common symptoms of meningococcemia include:

  • Difficulty thinking clearly
  • Fever
  • Generalized aches and pains
  • Headache
  • Irritability in children
  • Malaise or lethargy
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Loss of appetite or poor feeding in children and infants
  • Rash consisting of dark red or purple spots
  • Seizure
  • Stiff neck

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

Meningococcal disease is always a medical emergency and can be life threatening in some cases. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of these life-threatening symptoms including:

  • Change in level of consciousness or alertness, such as passing out or unresponsiveness
  • Change in mental status or sudden behavior change, such as confusion, delirium, lethargy, hallucinations and delusions
  • Excessive bleeding
  • High fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Seizure
  • Severe headache
  • Rash consisting of dark red or purple spots
  • Unusual irritability or poor feeding in children or infants
  • Unusual neck stiffness or pain
INTRODUCTION

What is meningococcal disease?

Meningococcal disease results from infection with a type of bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis, often referred to as meningococcus, that can cause serious infections in humans. Most commonly, these infections involve the meninges, the tissues that surround the brain and spinal cord, but they can also occur in the bloodstream and cause a generalized infection. When the meninges are invo... Read more about meningococcal diseaseintroduction

CAUSES

What causes meningococcal disease?

Meningococcal disease is caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis. It is contagious and spreads from person to person through tiny droplets that are sent into the air during talking, laughing, coughing and sneezing. It can also spread by kissing, sharing eating utensils, and hand-to-hand contact.... Read more about meningococcal diseasecauses

TREATMENTS

How is meningococcal disease treated?

The best treatment for meningococcal disease is avoiding it in the first place. Two types of effective vaccines have been developed against the specific types of Neisseria meningitidis that cause most cases of meningococcal disease.... Read more about meningococcal diseasetreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Infections and Contagious Diseases


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