The symptoms of bacterial meningitis can appear quickly or over several days. Typically they develop within three to seven days after exposure and include:
- Stiff neck
Infants younger than one month old are at a higher risk for severe infection. In newborns and infants, the classic symptoms of fever, headache, and neck stiffness may be absent or difficult to notice. The infant may appear to be slow or inactive, irritable, vomiting or feeding poorly. In young children, doctors may also look at the child’s reflexes, which can also be a sign of meningitis.
Although the early symptoms of viral meningitis and bacterial meningitis may be similar, later symptoms of bacterial meningitis can be very severe (e.g., seizures, coma). For this reason, if you think you or someone else may have meningitis, see a physician as soon as possible.
Symptoms of meningococcemia may include fever, fatigue, vomiting, cold hands and feet, cold chills, severe aches or pain in the muscles, joints, chest or abdomen, rapid breathing, diarrhea - and, in the later stages, a puerperal rash or a petechial rash.
Meningococcemia is very serious and can be fatal. In fatal cases, deaths can occur in as little as a few hours. In non-fatal cases, permanent disabilities can include amputations or severe scarring as a result of skin grafts.