Dr. Greene’s Answer:
Bacterial meningitis strikes in two common ways. Sudden onset meningitis features shock, internal bleeding, purple spots, and reduced consciousness at the very outset, with a rapidly progressive course often resulting in death within 24 hours. More commonly, meningitis begins with several days of upper respiratory symptoms or gastrointestinal symptoms. Most children have high fevers, severe headaches, and poor feeding. They may also have muscle aches, nasal congestion, vomiting, neck stiffness, and seizures. Children with meningitis become increasingly irritable and/or lethargic. The presence of petechiae (purple spots that indicate internal bleeding) is a sign that the infection may be raging out of control.
Last reviewed: June 21, 2008