What are the signs and symptoms of meningococcal meningitis?

Updated: Jul 16, 2018
  • Author: Francisco de Assis Aquino Gondim, MD, PhD, MSc, FAAN; Chief Editor: Niranjan N Singh, MBBS, MD, DM, FAHS, FAANEM  more...
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Meningococcal meningitis is characterized by acute onset of the following:

  • Intense headache

  • Fever

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Photophobia

  • Stiff neck

Lethargy or drowsiness in patients frequently is reported. Stupor or coma is less common. If coma is present, the prognosis is poor.

Patients also may complain of skin rash, which usually points to disease progression. Elderly patients are prone to have an altered mental state and a prolonged course with fever.

Meningococcal septicemia, which is characterized by rapid circulatory collapse and a hemorrhagic rash, is a more severe, but less common, form of meningococcal disease.

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