Meningococcal meningitis is a serious bacterial infection of the protective coverings of the brain and spinal cord. It can cause high fever, headache, and stiff neck in just 1–2 days. It can also cause small, dark spots on the arms and legs, confusion, nausea, vomiting, and trouble looking into bright lights. This disease can cause death or serious long-term complications in about 25% of people who get the infection.
In newborns and infants, the classic symptoms of fever, headache, and neck stiffness may be absent or difficult to notice. The infant may appear to be slow or inactive, irritable, vomiting or feeding poorly. In young children, doctors may also look at the child’s reflexes, which can also be a sign of meningitis.
Meningococcal meningitis is very serious and can be fatal. In fatal cases, deaths can occur in as little as a few hours. In non-fatal cases, permanent disabilities can include hearing loss and brain damage.