How long does it take to get meningitis?

Symptoms and Complications of Viral, Bacterial, and Other Types of Meningitis

What Are Complications of Bacterial Meningitis?

Most of the time, if bacterial meningitis is treated right away, people can return quickly to good health. Still, some cases can be fatal, and there may sometimes be long-term effects, such as: (2)

  • Tiredness
  • Cognitive difficulties
  • Hearing difficulties, including permanent hearing loss
  • Coordination problems
  • Behavioral problems (in children)
  • Speech problems
  • Headaches

The later stages of bacterial meningitis can cause severe and life-threatening complications, including:

  • Septicemia (blood poisoning)
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Stroke

Septicemia due to meningococcal meningitis causes a rash that begins as tiny red spots that, if untreated, turn into larger purplish bruise-like spots. This is due to the blood leaking from damaged blood vessels underneath the skin.

There’s a test to see whether this rash may be due to septicemia from meningococcal meningitis: If you press a glass to the rash, and the pressure doesn’t make the bumps fade, it means the rash may be caused by meningococcal meningitis.

In darker skin, check for the rash inside the eyelids, on palms of hands, and the bottoms of feet.

Cold feet and hands are other signs of septicemia.

What Are the Symptoms of Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis?

An infection from the microscopic amoeba (a single-celled organism) Naegleria fowleri can cause a very rare form of parasitic meningitis called primary amebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM, in which the brain is also inflamed.

The initial symptoms of PAM — headache, fever, stiff neck, nausea, and vomiting — begin within the first seven days of becoming infected with the parasite. As the infection progresses, it can cause:

  • Confusion
  • Lack of attention to people and surroundings
  • Loss of balance
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations

Without treatment, PAM usually results in death about five days after symptoms start, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (3)

What Are Neonatal Meningitis Symptoms?

Bacterial meningitis in newborns is called neonatal bacterial meningitis.

The condition is very rare and occurs most often in babies with low birth weight. It’s been estimated that neonatal bacterial meningitis affects 2 in every 10,000 babies born full-term, and in 2 out of 1,000 low birth weight infants. (4)

The incidence of this disease has decreased over the last few decades, possibly due to increased maternal screenings for the bacteria that is primarily responsible for this disease. (5) That bacteria is Group B streptococcus (GBS).

According to a study published in March 2015 in the journal Clinical Perinatology, the following are among the risk factors for neonatal meningitis: (5)

  • Premature birth
  • GBS infection in the mother
  • Fever in the mother
  • Low birth weight
  • Fetal monitoring or other invasive procedures, like shunts or catheters

Signs and symptoms of meningitis in newborns include:

  • Fever
  • Dazed effect
  • Difficulties focusing a gaze
  • Irritability, especially when held
  • Constant crying
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Difficulty being fed
  • Bulging fontanelle (swollen soft spot on the head)
  • Constant sleepiness or trouble waking

Neonatal meningitis caused by GBS may develop in an infant’s first week of life, but most often occurs in an infant’s first three months. (4)

How to catch meningitis

Anyone can be affected by meningitis and septicaemia, but there are certain factors which may put you at greater risk. These include being a certain age (0-5, 15-24 and over 65), living environment, exposure to passive smoking, mass gatherings and immune system problems.

Meningitis symptoms and at-risk groups

Meningitis and septicaemia often happen together. Be aware of all the signs and symptoms.

There are many different causes of meningitis, but the two most common organisms are viruses and bacteria.

After meningitis

Meningitis can strike quickly, but its impact can last a lifetime. We know that meningitis and septicaemia can turn your world upside down, leaving many with after-effects.

  • One in ten of those who contract bacterial meningitis will die
  • We estimate that up to 30-50% of those who survive bacterial meningitis are left with one of more permanent problems and suffer physical, neurological and physiological after-effects
  • Viral meningitis is usually less serious than bacterial meningitis but can still leave people with long-lasting after-effects, such as headaches, fatigue and memory problems

Meningitis facts

  • Bacterial meningitis is life-threatening.
  • Viral meningitis is rarely life-threatening, but can leave you with lifelong after-effects.
  • All causes of meningitis are serious and need medical attention.
  • Meningitis can affect anyone, of any age, at any time, however there are ‘at risk’ groups.
  • Meningitis can strike quickly and kill within hours, so urgent medical attention is essential.
  • Vaccines are the only way to prevent meningitis, and until we have vaccines to prevent all types, you need to know the signs and symptoms to look out for and the action to take.
  • Most people will make a good recovery, but some will suffer life-long after-effects and complications.

Fontanelles – bulging


A bulging fontanelle is an outward curving of an infant’s soft spot (fontanelle).

Alternative Names

Soft spot – bulging; Bulging fontanelles


The skull is made up of many bones, 8 in the skull itself and 14 in the face area. They join together to form a solid, bony cavity that protects and supports the brain. The areas where the bones join together are called the sutures.

The bones are not joined together firmly at birth. This allows the head to change shape to help it pass through the birth canal. The sutures get minerals added to them over time and harden, firmly joining the skull bones together.

In an infant, the space where 2 sutures join forms a membrane-covered “soft spot” called a fontanelle (fontanel). The fontanelles allow for growth of the brain and skull during an infant’s first year.

There are normally several fontanelles on a newborn’s skull. They are located mainly at the top, back, and sides of the head. Like the sutures, fontanelles harden over time and become closed, solid bony areas.

  • The fontanelle in the back of the head (posterior fontanelle) most often closes by the time an infant is 1 to 2 months old.
  • The fontanelle at the top of the head (anterior fontanelle) most often closes between 7 to 19 months.

The fontanelles should feel firm and very slightly curved inward to the touch. A tense or bulging fontanelle occurs when fluid builds up in the brain or the brain swells, causing increased pressure inside the skull.

When the infant is crying, lying down, or vomiting, the fontanelles may look like they are bulging. However, they should return to normal when the infant is in a calm, head-up position.


Reasons a child may have bulging fontanelles include:

  • Encephalitis. Swelling (inflammation) of the brain, most often due to infections.
  • Hydrocephalus. A buildup of fluid inside the skull.
  • Increased intracranial pressure.
  • Meningitis. Infection of the membranes covering the brain.

Home Care

If the fontanelle returns to normal appearance when the child is calm and head-up, it is not a truly bulging fontanelle.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Immediate, emergency care is needed for any infant who has a truly bulging fontanelle, especially if it occurs along with fever or excess drowsiness.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

The health care provider will perform a physical exam and ask questions about the child’s medical history, such as:

  • Does the “soft spot” return to normal appearance when the infant is calm or head-up?
  • Does it bulge all the time or does it come and go?
  • When did you first notice this?
  • Which fontanelles bulge (top of the head, back of the head, or other)?
  • Are all the fontanelles bulging?
  • What other symptoms are present (such as fever, irritability, or lethargy)?

Diagnostic tests that may be done are:

  • CT scan of the head
  • MRI scan of the head
  • Spinal tap (lumbar puncture)


Rosenberg GA. Brain edema and disorders of cerebrospinal fluid circulation. In: Daroff RB, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, eds. Bradley’s Neurology in Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 88.



Dermoid cysts of anterior fontanel in adults are rare. These are benign cystic lesions that occur at lines of fusion in the body. Dermoid cysts of the scalp including at the anterior fontanel in infants and small children have been reported in the literature. But not many reports exist on this condition in adults. Here, we present three adults who presented with this condition. The first patient was a 27-year-old young man who noticed this swelling about 7 years before. He noticed this when he started getting hurt while combing his hair. Clinical examination revealed a well-rounded swelling of about 3 cm × 3 cm size in the region of the anterior fontanel. There were no visible pulsations, any sinus tract or punctum or dilated veins seen. On examination, the lesion had heterogeneous consistency with some areas soft and cystic. It was nontender and nonpulsatile and did not give a cough impulse. Transillumination was not present and there was no bruit on auscultation. The bony margins were felt to be inverted. The next patient was an 18-year-old boy who underwent tonsuring of the head and noticed the swelling of around 1.5 cm with a punctum. The other findings were similar. There was no discharge from the punctum. In this 22-year-old young female, the beautician noticed this swelling with similar findings but no punctum. All the patients underwent computed tomography (CT) scans which showed no intracranial extension in any case. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was done in all cases and intracranial extensions were ruled out. All the patients underwent total excision of the lesion. During surgery, the lesions had hair and calcified portions and one of the swellings showed rudimentary teeth. There was some erosion of the outer table in one case (the young man), but there was no breach of the inner table in any of the cases. The histopathological report in all cases was dermoid cyst. Dermoid cysts in the head and neck are usually considered congenital lesions. However, occasionally, these lesions have been identified in adults also. The importance of dermoids in the scalp is the potential for intracranial extension. Here, we describe three adults with histologically proved dermoid cysts in the anterior fontanel region without any intracranial extension.

Photograph of one male patient showing the dermoid cyst

de Carvalho et al. presented 7 patients aged 3 months to 16 years with cystic lesions of the anterior fontanel. They were detected at birth and were progressive in size but asymptomatic. All patients underwent removal of the lesion. Ojikutu and Mordi described congenital inclusion dermoid cysts over the region of the anterior fontanel in two adult Nigerians. Both were seen at birth but were not treated till adult life. There was no intracranial extension in both. Histopathologically, both were confirmed as dermoid cysts. Surgical excision was curative. de Castro et al. also presented a 23-year-old man with a scalp swelling at the region of the anterior fontanel without any neurological issues. CT scan did not show any intracranial extension. The lesion was excised in total with very good result. The lesion was soft cystic containing a greenish viscous liquid with hair. Chaudhari et al. described 21 children with congenital inclusion cysts of the subgaleal space. A majority of them were in the anterior fontanel. The cysts were reported as dermoid/epidermoid cysts. There have been many other studies on dermoids over the anterior fontanel with similar conclusions. Reissis et al. studied the histology of 16 craniofacial cysts and concluded that histological properties of dermoid cysts are conserved between craniofacial sites (periorbital, nasal, scalp, and postauricular). This reflects the consistency of ectodermal inclusion during early embryological development, which is independent of specific craniofacial site or surrounding anatomical structures.

In our study also, all the patients had neurologically asymptomatic lesions without any intracranial extension. All the lesions were confirmed to be dermoids histopathologically. All the lesions were excised totally without problems. The importance of these lesions for the surgeon is that these can mimic other pathologies such as encephalocoels or meningocoels, and so, CT scan/MRI is a must to rule out the pathology as well as any intracranial extension before any surgical intervention. The existence of this entity is especially useful for the trainee surgeons and neurosurgeons.

Declaration of patient consent

The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate patient consent forms. In the form the patient(s) has/have given his/her/their consent for his/her/their images and other clinical information to be reported in the journal. The patients understand that their names and initials will not be published and due efforts will be made to conceal their identity, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

5 Possible Causes for Anterior Fontanelle Open in Adults

  • Cleidocranial Dysplasia

    BACKGROUND: Cleidocranial dysplasia is a developmental anomaly of the skeleton and the teeth. This condition may be inherited, be transmitted as dominant characteristics in either sex, or even may appear spontaneously. It presents with skeletal defects of several bones, like partial or complete absence of clavicles,

  • Pyknodysostosis

    Pyknodysostosis is a rare, genetic, autosomal recessive condition characterized by short stature, generalized bone sclerosis, and oral manifestations such as maxillary atresia and an increase of the mandibular angle. The main purpose of this article was to report a case of pyknodysostosis, describing the

  • Communicating Hydrocephalus

    fontanelle when it is still open) Findings: enlarged lateral ventricles MRI (preferred for children) or CT Indication: older infants (when fontanelle is already closed, typically 6 months of age) or adults Features of acute hydrocephalus: enlarged ventricles Temporal horn dilation 2 mm Evans ratio 30% Sulcal enlargement Mickey Mouse ventricles Upward Changes in vital signs resulting from brainstem compression Ultrasonography Indication: clinical suspicion during antenatal period or in infants 6 months of age (through the anterior

  • Congenital Communicating Hydrocephalus

    fontanelle when it is still open) Findings: enlarged lateral ventricles MRI (preferred for children) or CT Indication: older infants (when fontanelle is already closed, typically 6 months of age) or adults Features of acute hydrocephalus: enlarged ventricles Temporal horn dilation 2 mm Evans ratio 30% Sulcal enlargement Mickey Mouse ventricles Upward Changes in vital signs resulting from brainstem compression Ultrasonography Indication: clinical suspicion during antenatal period or in infants 6 months of age (through the anterior

  • Endemic Cretinism

    Furthermore, adult African (Uele) ME cretins ( Melot et al . 1962 ) have open anterior fontanelles, also evident in DC, HC and possibly replicated in the damaged LB1.

  • Meningitis: Top 10 Things CDC Says You Should Know

    Contaminated vials like these, produced at the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass., were responsible for this latest outbreak of fungal meningitis. Photo by Minnesota Department of Health.

    It was just some neck pain — nothing too alarming. But Diana Reed had recently lost her job and was trying to use her health insurance while she still had coverage.

    She expected the steroid treatment would bring some relief, and as the sole caregiver of a husband with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, she needed it. Instead, just hours after the last of three injections, the headaches began. She died several days later.

    Diana Reed’s name is now part of a tally tied to black-mold-infected steroids produced at the New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts: 32 dead, 438 infected, 19 states with cases. As U.S. legislators convene two separate congressional hearings on the matter this week, NewsHour health correspondent Betty Ann Bowser travels to Diana’s hometown in Tennessee for a more personal take on the tragedy. Tune in for her full report Wednesday evening.

    In the meantime, some context — straight from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Several weeks ago, the CDC, in coordination with the Food & Drug Administration and local health officials, launched a multi-state investigation of fungal meningitis and other infections among patients who received the contaminated steroid injections.

    The official tally from that investigation is illustrated in the map below. Click “play” to see how the outbreak has impacted your state. Below that, the CDC lists the “Top 10” things you should know about the disease.

    Meningitis is a disease caused by the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord known as the meninges. The inflammation is usually triggered by an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord and often also results in some common symptoms, like headache, fever and stiff neck, according to the CDC.

    Some meningitis infections clear up on their own. Some can kill you in a matter of days — it all depends on the type. The fungal variety is quite different than the kind that spreads so easily in dorm rooms and other crowded places. Unlike its bacterial and viral cousins, fungal meningitis is not contagious.

    Need a cheat sheet to help keep it all straight? The CDC thinks you should remember 10 easy bullet points about this surprisingly complex disease. Here they are:

    1. There are five “types” of meningitis.

    Meningitis may develop in response to a number of causes, usually bacteria or viruses, but meningitis can also be caused by physical injury, cancer or certain drugs.

    The five “types” of meningitis are:

    • Bacterial Meningitis
    • Viral Meningitis
    • Fungal Meningitis
    • Parasitic Meningitis
    • Non-infectious Meningitis

    The severity of illness and the treatment for meningitis differ depending on the cause. Thus, it is important to know the specific cause of meningitis. For the ongoing outbreak of fungal meningitis and other infections linked to contaminated steroid medication, fungus was discovered as the cause. More on that below. But let’s first look at some of the other types of meningitis and facts you need to know.

    2. There are vaccines that protect against three types of bacteria that can cause meningitis.

    Bacterial meningitis is usually severe and can be life-threatening. While most people with meningitis recover, it can cause serious complications, such as brain damage, hearing loss or learning disabilities. In the United States, about 4,100 cases of bacterial meningitis, including 500 deaths, occurred each year between 2003-2007.

    The germs that cause bacterial meningitis can be contagious. Some bacteria can spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions (e.g., kissing). Fortunately, most of the bacteria that cause bacterial meningitis are not as contagious as diseases like the common cold or the flu. Also, the bacteria are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been.

    Other meningitis-causing bacteria are not spread person-to-person, but can cause disease because the person has certain risk factors (such as a weak immune system or head trauma). And finally, unlike other bacterial causes of meningitis, you can get Listeria monocytogenes by eating contaminated food.

    The most effective way to protect you and your child against certain types of bacterial meningitis is to complete the recommended vaccine schedule. There are vaccines for three types of bacteria that can cause meningitis: Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus), Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus), and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib).

    3. There are things that can increase your risk of bacterial meningitis.

    Factors that can increase your risk of bacterial meningitis include:

    Age: Infants are at higher risk for bacterial meningitis than people in other age groups. However, people of any age are at risk.

    Community setting: Infectious diseases tend to spread more quickly where larger groups of people gather together. College students living in dormitories and military personnel are at increased risk for meningococcal meningitis.

    Certain medical conditions: There are certain diseases, medications, and surgical procedures that may weaken the immune system or increase risk of meningitis in other ways.

    Working with meningitis-causing pathogens: Microbiologists who are routinely exposed to meningitis-causing pathogens are at increased risk.

    Travel: Travelers to the meningitis belt in sub-Saharan Africa may be at risk for meningococcal meningitis, particularly during the dry season. Also at risk for meningococcal meningitis are travelers to Mecca during the annual Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage.

    Bacterial meningitis infection may show up in a person by a sudden onset of fever, headache, and stiff neck. It will often have other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light, and confusion. Infants may appear to be slow or inactive (lack of alertness), irritable, vomiting or feeding poorly. The symptoms of bacterial meningitis can appear quickly or over several days. Typically they develop within three to seven days after exposure. Later symptoms of bacterial meningitis can be very severe (e.g., seizures, coma). For this reason, anyone who thinks they may have meningitis should see a doctor as soon as possible.

    Bacterial meningitis can be treated effectively with antibiotics. It is important that treatment be started as soon as possible. Appropriate antibiotic treatment of the most common types of bacterial meningitis should reduce the risk of dying from meningitis to below 15 percent, although the risk remains higher among young infants and the elderly.

    4. Symptoms of viral meningitis in adults may differ from those in children.

    Viral meningitis is generally less severe and resolves without specific treatment. However, the symptoms of viral meningitis are similar to those for bacterial meningitis, which can be fatal. Because of this, it is important to see a health care provider right away if you think you or your child might have meningitis.

    Common symptoms in infants:

    • Fever
    • Irritability
    • Poor eating
    • Hard to awaken

    Common symptoms in adults:

    • High fever
    • Severe headache
    • Stiff neck
    • Sensitivity to bright light
    • Sleepiness or trouble waking up
    • Nausea, vomiting
    • Lack of appetite

    There is no specific treatment for viral meningitis. Antibiotics do not help viral infections, so they are not useful in the treatment of viral meningitis. Symptoms usually last from seven to 10 days, and people with normal immune systems usually recover completely. A hospital stay may be necessary in more severe cases or for people with weak immune systems.

    5. There are no vaccines for the most common causes of viral meningitis, so the best way to prevent it is to prevent viral infections.

    Most viral meningitis cases in the United States, especially during the summer months, are caused by enteroviruses (small viruses made of RNA and protein); however, only a small number of people with enterovirus infections actually develop meningitis.

    There are steps you can take to help lower your chances of becoming infected with viruses or of passing one on to someone else:

    • Wash your hands thoroughly and often, especially after changing diapers, using the toilet, or coughing or blowing your nose.

    • Clean contaminated surfaces, such as doorknobs or the TV remote control, with soap and water and then disinfect them with a dilute solution of chlorine-containing bleach.

    • Avoid kissing or sharing a drinking glass, eating utensil, lipstick, or other such items with sick people or with others when you are sick.

    • Make sure you and your child are vaccinated. Vaccinations included in the childhood vaccination schedule can protect children against some diseases that can lead to viral meningitis. These include vaccines against measles and mumps (MMR vaccine) and chickenpox (varicella-zoster vaccine).

    • Avoid bites from mosquitoes and other insects that carry diseases that can infect humans.

    • Control mice and rats. If you have a rodent infestation in and/or around your home, follow the cleaning and control precautions listed on CDC’s website about LCMV (Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus). In rare cases LCMV, which is spread by rodents, can cause viral meningitis.

    6. Fungal meningitis is very rare in the United States, but is more common in places such as sub-Saharan Africa.

    Although anyone can get fungal meningitis, people with weak immune systems, like those with AIDS or cancer, are at higher risk. The most common cause of fungal meningitis for people with weak immune systems is Cryptococcus. This disease is one of the most common causes of adult meningitis in Africa.

    CDC is currently working with countries in Africa and Asia to begin screening for Cryptococcus. We have new rapid diagnostic tests that will allow clinicians to detect fungal meningitis early among HIV positive patients, which will help them receive treatment earlier and has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives. There are about a million cases of fungal meningitis in sub-Saharan Africa every year, and about 600,000 deaths — even more deaths than are caused by tuberculosis, so this screening has the potential to make a huge impact in these countries.

    7. Fungal meningitis is not contagious.

    Fungal meningitis is not transmitted from person to person. It can develop after a fungus spreads through the bloodstream from somewhere else in the body, as a result of the fungus being introduced directly into the central nervous system, or from an infected body site infection next to the central nervous system.

    You may also get fungal meningitis after taking medications that weaken your immune system. Examples of these medications include steroids (such as prednisone), medications given after organ transplantation, or anti-TNF medications, which are sometimes given for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune conditions.

    Symptoms are similar to symptoms of other forms of meningitis; however, they often appear more gradually and can be very mild at first.

    Fungal meningitis is treated with long courses of high-dose antifungal medications, usually given through an IV line in the hospital. The length of treatment depends on the status of the immune system and the type of fungus that caused the infection. For people with immune systems that do not function well because of other conditions, like AIDS, diabetes, or cancer, treatment is often longer.

    8. The United States is currently experiencing an unprecedented multi-state outbreak of fungal meningitis and other infections.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in collaboration with state and local health departments and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is investigating a multistate outbreak of fungal meningitis and other infections among patients who received contaminated steroid injections. The infections identified as part of this investigation include fungal meningitis, a form of meningitis that is not contagious, and infections associated with injections in a peripheral joint space, such as a knee, shoulder, or ankle.

    All of the infections were associated with one of three lots of preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate, an injectable steroid medication recalled on September 26, 2012, from the New England Compounding Center (NECC). See CDC’s website for more information about what patients need to know.

    9. Primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) is a very rare form of parasitic meningitis that causes a fatal brain infection.

    Primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) is a very rare form of parasitic meningitis that is caused by the microscopic ameba (a single-celled living organism) Naegleria fowleri.

    Naegleria fowleri infects people by entering the body through the nose. This typically occurs when people go swimming or diving in warm freshwater places, like lakes and rivers. The Naegleria fowleri ameba travels up the nose to the brain where it destroys the brain tissue.

    No data exist to accurately estimate the true risk of PAM. The hundreds of millions of visits to swimming venues that occur each year in the U.S. result in 0-8 infections per year.

    Naegleria fowleri is found around the world. In the United States, the majority of infections have been caused by Naegleria fowleri from warm freshwater located in southern-tier states. The ameba can be found in:

    • Bodies of warm freshwater, such as lakes and rivers
    • Geothermal (naturally hot) water, such as hot springs
    • Warm water discharge from industrial plants
    • Geothermal (naturally hot) drinking water sources
    • Soil
    • Swimming pools that are poorly maintained, minimally-chlorinated, and/or un-chlorinated
    • Water heaters with temperatures less than 116.6 degrees Fahrenheit (47 degrees Celsius).

    Naegleria fowleri is not found in salt water, like the ocean.

    Several drugs are effective against Naegleria fowleri in the laboratory. However, their effectiveness is unclear since almost all infections have been fatal, even when people were treated. The fatality rate for an infected person who begins to show signs and symptoms is over 99 percent. Only 1 person out of 123 known infected individuals in the United States from 1962 to 2011 has survived.

    10. There are several things that can cause non-infectious meningitis.

    Non-infectious meningitis causes include:

    • Cancers
    • Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus)
    • Certain drugs
    • Head injury
    • Brain surgery

    Treatment depends on the underlying cause (cancer, head injury, brain surgery, etc.).

    This type of meningitis is not spread from person to person. Like other types of meningitis, symptoms of non-infectious meningitis include a sudden onset of fever, headache and stiff neck. It is often accompanied by other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, photophobia (sensitivity to light), and altered mental status.

    If you still have questions about meningitis, join the NewsHour’s live chat with the CDC’s Dr. Amanda Cohn and Dr. Benjamin Park on Thursday, Nov. 15, at 1 p.m. ET. Submit your question in the comments section below or participate in the conversation live on Thursday.

    Interactive map by Justin Myers.

    Diseases that can kill within 24 hours

    There are so many diseases around that have the potential to kill, but what diseases spread so rapidly that you are dead within 24 hours?

    Meningitis is one of them. The disease sweeps through the body at such a fast rate that a person can die within a day if they are not medically treated immediately.

    We have compiled a list of diseases that can kill within a day to ensure you are aware of them and know how to act.

    1.Meningococcal Disease

    This is a disease that is spread through saliva and nasal droplets from infected people, through sneezing, coughing, sharing drinks, kissing, cigarettes etc….It is is fatal in about 50% of people who suffer from it. In about 10 to 15 per cent of those affected they can end up suffering severe neurological defects including cognitive problems, severe headaches and depression.

    The symptoms of meningitis are similar to the flu and can easily be mistaken for the flu. This disease has NO geographical barriers. That is, you do not have to be in a certain country to catch this disease. Meningitis is everywhere. About 10 per cent of the population carry this disease in the back of their throats and nose.

    Babies and infants are more prevalent to catching the disease because of their weaker immune system.

    The disease attacks the meninges or the lining of the brain and spinal cord and a person’s responses can become significantly compromised. They may become more sensitive to light, the body aches, fever, stiff neck, the energy level is compromised and there MAYBE a purple rash, however that does NOT always appear. Meningitis Centre Australia recommends don’t wait for the rash to occur before you seek medical assistance.

    There is a vaccine for most bacterial forms of meningitis including Meningococcal C, Pneumococcal meningitis, HiB, Meningococcal B and A, W135 and Y. They are available on the National Immunisation Plan free of charge for Australian citizens except for the Men B vaccine and the A C W135 Y which needs to be paid for out of pocket. Meningitis Centre Australia has a petition to lobby the Federal Government to get the Men B vaccine ( the most common form of meningitis) on the Immunisation Plan.

    2. Flesh Eating Bug

    This bug can quickly sweep through the body eating the body’s soft tissue. It is usually caused by more than one type of bacteria with Streptococcus (group A strep) the most common bacteria.

    The bacteria attacks the connective tissue surrounding the muscles, nerves, fat and blood vessels causing it to die. This can lead to the loss of limbs or life.


    A stroke can occur when a blood vessel bursts or is blocked by a clot in the brain. It shuts off the oxygen supply causing brain damage. But these days 80 per cent of premature heart attacks and strokes are preventable. The most common symptoms of stroke is numbness to the face, arm,or leg and usually affects one side of the body.

    4. Cholera

    This is an intestinal disease caused by eating contaminated water or food and can kill anyone within hours. Those struck by infection suffer diarrhoea and can lead to dehydration and death if not treated urgently.


    This is a disease where the bacteria is resistant to many antibiotics. Also known as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. The symptoms of MRSA depend on where you’re infected. Most often, it causes mild infections on the skin like sores or boils. But it can also cause more serious skin infections or infect surgical wounds, the bloodstream, the lungs, or the urinary tract.

    6. Enterovirus D68

    This virus is spread from the patient’s saliva, coughs and sneezes and can be picked up from household surfaces that are contaminated with the bug. Symptoms include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough and muscle soreness. Asthmatics are at more greater risk of catching this virus. In more serious cases it can cause wheezing and severe breathing difficulties which can cause death.

    7. Bubonic Plague

    Yes we know this as the “Black Plague” caused by a bite or fleas from an infected small animal like a rat. While not found in Australia, it is endemic in African countries, Russia, the Americas and throughout Asia. The symptoms are fever and chills, headaches and body aches, vomiting and nausea.

    8. Ebola

    Over 11,500 people have lost their lives worldwide to Ebola. This virus is transmitted through close contact with blood, secretions organs or bodily fluids from infected animals. It is common in West African countries like Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

    9. Dengue Fever

    You might have heard of this disease within Australia and places like Bali. This disease is spread by an infected mosquito. Symptoms are high fever, headaches, pain behind the eyes, joint pain, muscle and bone pain and a rash or bleeding from the nose and gums. These infected mosquitoes usually live in tropical countries. there is no vaccine available for this so protection is recommended. Close window screens and doors, use repellents and wear long sleeve clothing.

    Most of these diseases can be prevented through vaccines or proper hygiene. Ensure your vaccinations are up to date or consult with your doctor about immunisation here in Australia or if you are going overseas.

    Written by Lisa D’Cruz for Meningitis Centre Australia

    Facts about Meningococcal Disease for Adults

    What is Meningococcal Disease?

    Meningococcal (muh-nin-jo-kok-ul) disease is a very serious bacterial infection that most often causes severe swelling of the protective lining around the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) or infection of the bloodstream (meningococcal sepsis). The bacteria that cause meningococcal disease are spread by close, direct contact with people who carry the bacteria in their nose or throat. Even with appropriate treatment, one in 10 people who get meningococcal disease will die and up to two in 10 more will have serious permanent disabilities including brain damage, hearing loss, and limb amputations.

    What are the Symptoms of Meningococcal Disease?

    In its early stages, meningococcal disease symptoms can include fever, headache, body aches, and a stiff neck. These symptoms may be mild and easily mistaken for less severe illnesses, like a bad cold. But symptoms can progress quickly, killing an otherwise healthy young person in less than 48 hours. Other symptoms that may occur are nausea, vomiting, confusion, sleepiness, sensitivity to light, and a rash (usually dark purple spots on the arms, legs, or torso).

    Vaccines to Prevent Meningococcal Disease

    There are two types of meningococcal vaccines currently available in the US. One type protects against four meningococcal serogroups (A, C, W, and Y) while the other type protects against one serogroup (B). The vaccines that protect against the four serogroups (quadrivalent) have been available since 2005 and are recommended for routine use in adolescents and young adults through age 18 years. Serogroup B vaccines have been available in the US since late 2014 and are recommended for people age 10 years or older who are at increased risk for serogroup B meningococcal disease. Serogroup B vaccination is also recommended for individuals with certain rare immune disorders or spleen problems, or those living where there is an active outbreak, for example on a college campus. Read more about serogroup B outbreaks on college campuses. Talk to a healthcare professional about which vaccines are right for you and your family.

    Vaccine Safety

    Meningococcal vaccines are safe. Vaccine reactions are usually mild. The most common reactions are pain and redness at the injection site. You cannot get meningococcal disease from the vaccines. The potential risks associated with meningococcal disease are much greater than the potential risks associated with the vaccines.

    Facts About Meningococcal Disease and Vaccines

    • FACT: Quadrivalent meningococcal vaccine (A, C, W, and Y) is a safe and effective vaccine licensed to prevent meningococcal disease in individuals age 2 to 55 years.
    • FACT: Serogroup B vaccines are safe and effective vaccines licensed to prevent meningococcal disease in individuals age 10 to 25 years.
    • FACT: Quadrivalent vaccine is recommended for routine immunization of adolescents at age 11-12 years, with a booster at age 16 years, and for adults with certain risk factors.
    • FACT: Serogroup B vaccines are recommended for adolescents and young adults with certain rare immune disorders, problems with their spleen, or those are living where there is an outbreak, including college campuses.
    • FACT: You cannot get meningococcal disease from vaccines.
    • FACT: All meningococcal vaccines are safe and side effects after vaccination are usually minor and can include pain and redness at the injection site.
    • FACT: About one in 10 people who get meningococcal disease will die from it and two in 10 survivors will have serious permanent disabilities like brain damage, hearing loss, and limb amputations.
    • FACT: While some adults are at increased risk and need vaccination, adolescents and young adults generally have a higher risk of getting meningococcal disease.
    • FACT: Meningococcal bacteria are spread through close, direct contact with a person carrying the bacteria and not through casual contact such as breathing air where an infected person has been.
    • FACT: Early symptoms of meningococcal disease (fever, headache, body aches, and stiff neck) may be mistaken for other less serious illnesses like the common cold, but meningococcal disease symptoms can progress quickly killing an otherwise healthy young person in two days or less.

    Additional Resources

    Sample social media posts focused on meningococcal disease prevention

    Many adults need to be vaccinated if they are at increased risk of meningococcal disease, including college students, military personnel, and some international travelers

    Serogroup B is the most common cause of meningococcal disease in US adolescents and young adults


    Meningitis is an infection of the meninges, the membranes that protect the spinal cord and the brain. When the meninges become infected, they start to swell, putting pressure on the spinal cord or brain and causing potentially life-threatening complications. Meningitis is called an acute condition because symptoms strike quickly and suddenly.

    Although meningitis is most often caused by viruses, bacterial meningitis is more serious. The bacteria that cause bacterial meningitis are just about everywhere—they even live inside your respiratory tract. But they don’t always make you sick. Experts don’t always know why bacterial meningitis occurs. Some people get it when their immune system is down or they’ve recently been sick. Suffering a head injury may also increase your bacterial meningitis risk.

    It’s important to know what’s causing your meningitis. Even though all types affect the same area of the body, they can have different outcomes and require different treatments.

    Facts about bacterial meningitis

    Although viral meningitis isn’t usually serious, bacterial meningitis can lead to significant brain damage. Swelling of the meninges can result in paralysis or a debilitating stroke. In some cases, bacterial meningitis is fatal.

    Bacterial meningitis can be caused by many different types of bacteria, including Streptococcus pneumoniae, Neisseria meningitides, and Haemophilus influenzae, and vaccines are available that target many of them. Children now routinely get a meningitis vaccine around ages 11 to 12, followed by a booster vaccine at age 16. Bacterial meningitis is usually more common in infants under 1 year of age and people ages 16 to 21. College students living in dorms or other close quarters are at increased risk, as are adults with certain medical problems, including those without a spleen.


    The most common symptoms of bacterial meningitis are:

    • Painful, stiff neck with limited range of motion

    • Headaches

    • High fever

    • Feeling confused or sleepy

    • Bruising easily all over the body

    • A rash on the skin

    • Experiencing a sensitivity to light

    These are symptoms to look for in children:

    • Irritability

    • Vomiting from a high fever

    • Frequent crying

    • Swelling of the head

    • Lack of appetite

    • Seizures (sometimes also seen in adults if the meningitis is advanced)

    Symptoms typically come on quickly, in as little as a couple of hours or up to a day or two. If you think you or your child may have bacterial meningitis, go to an emergency room right away.


    To diagnose bacterial meningitis, a doctor will usually perform a spinal tap (also called a lumbar puncture) to take a sample of fluid from around the spinal cord. The fluid is then analyzed for bacteria. The doctor will also talk to you about your symptoms and perform a physical exam, as well as check your joints for flexibility.

    Other tests may include:

    • CT scan of the brain

    • Blood and urine testing

    • Swab of fluids from your nose or throat


    Prompt treatment of bacterial meningitis is crucial—it can save your life. Once a doctor has confirmed a diagnosis of bacterial meningitis and identified the type of bacteria that’s causing the infection, you’ll start taking antibiotics to kill the bacteria.

    Antibiotics are given intravenously, through a needle placed into a vein (usually in the arm or hand). They may also be given along with a corticosteroid to help alleviate inflammation and swelling. Treatment also includes plenty of fluids to ward off dehydration.


    Vaccines are available to help prevent bacterial meningitis. Ask your health care provider if you are a good candidate for one of them. Also call your health care provider to talk about preventive strategies if you’ve been around someone who has bacterial meningitis, because it can be contagious.


    Up to 10 percent of people with bacterial meningitis don’t survive. Some who survive the illness may battle seizures, brain damage, hearing loss, and disability for the rest of their life. But many people with bacterial meningitis survive without any permanent complications, usually thanks to quick diagnosis and treatment.

    Key points to remember

    If you feel like you’ve got the flu with unusual stiffness in your neck—if, for instance, you can’t touch your chin to your chest—it could be meningitis. It’s a good idea to get any symptoms checked out and treated as soon as possible to help ward off potentially grave complications.

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