What are the signs and symptoms of meningococcal meningitis in young children?

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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In young children, meningococcal meningitis can manifest as follows:

Subacute infection that progresses over several days


Projectile vomiting

Seizures, usually with a focal onset - Typically during the first few days

Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome - Characterized by large petechial hemorrhages in the skin and mucous membranes, fever, septic shock, and disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC)

Insidious onset - Can be a feature in infants; stiff neck may be absent

In children, even when the combination of convulsive status epilepticus and fever exists, the classic signs and symptoms of acute bacterial meningitis may not be present. [3]

See Clinical Presentation for more detail.

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