Bacterial (Meningococcal) Meningitis
Meningitis is an inflammation of the membrane covering the brain and spinal cord that can be of bacterial or viral origin. The infection is spread through very close or intimate contact with saliva, secretions of the nose and throat or a direct cough producing secretions. A very close or intimate contact can be defined as a household contact or someone socially close enough to have shared eating utensils, kissed the ill person or been within three to four feet of the person while they were coughing.

Most types of meningitis do not require preventive prophylaxis, however, when the meningitis is caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis, preventive medication is recommended to reduce the risk of infection in persons who have had very close or intimate contact with the ill person.

The period of time between being infected and developing symptoms is usually three to four days, but it can be as long as ten days after exposure.

The symptoms of meningitis can be one or more of the following:
  • Sudden onset of high fever
  • Intense headache and/or confusion
  • Nausea and often vomiting
  • Stiff neck
  • Possible rash
  • Lethargy or coma
Any person with these symptoms needs to seek immediate medical attention. If you have concerns about your child's risk of illness because of their possible exposure to a case of meningitis, you should contact your physician.