What are the signs and symptoms of bacterial and viral meningitis?

Updated: Jul 16, 2019
  • Author: Rodrigo Hasbun, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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The classic triad of bacterial meningitis consists of the following:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Neck stiffness

Up to 95% of patients with bacterial meningitis have at least two of the four following symptoms: fever, headache, stiff neck, or altered mental status.

Other symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, photalgia (photophobia), sleepiness, confusion, irritability, delirium, and coma. Patients with viral meningitis may have a history of preceding systemic symptoms (eg, myalgias, fatigue, or anorexia).

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