Meningococcal disease is an infection caused by a strain of bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis. This nasty bug is one of the leading causes of bacterial meningitis in children aged 2 to 18 in the U.S.
Meningococcal disease can include meningitis -- a serious, potentially life-threatening inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord -- and a life-threatening blood infection. Meningococcal disease can cause limb loss through amputation, hearing loss, problems with the nervous...
If your child is too young to talk, you may have a hard time detecting some of these symptoms. So in infants and young children, the only evident meningitis symptoms might be:
Pale or blotchy skin
Crying when held
The speed with which meningitis symptoms develop varies. Bacterial meningitis symptoms come on quickly, usually over a period of hours. With viral meningitis, symptoms might develop over several days.
When to See a Doctor
Of course, what's disturbing about the above list of meningitis symptoms, especially for a parent, is that most are incredibly common.
So here's one important thing to keep in mind. Beyond any of the specific meningitis symptoms, children or adults with bacterial meningitis -- the most serious type -- usually become very ill very quickly.
Even though the odds of getting meningitis are very small, you should still err on the side of caution. If you or a family member have been exposed to meningitis or have worrisome meningitis symptoms, give your health care provider a call. If the meningitis symptoms seem severe, go to the emergency room right away. Getting prompt treatment for meningitis can make all the difference.