Meningitis & encephalitis
Signs and Symptoms
Meningitis in children:
1. Fever of 100 degrees or higher, combined with headache or stiff neck.
2. The head cannot be bent toward the chest when lying (except in infants less than one month old) because of the shooting pain in the neck and back.
3. Irritability or lethargy.
4. Loss of appetite.
5. Turning away from bright lights.
6. Possibly nausea and vomiting.
7. In infants, a bulging soft spot of the skull.
8. Possibly seizures.
9. Rarely, a bumpy red or purple rash anywhere on the body.
Meningitis or encephalitis in adults:
1. Fever, other flulike symptoms, and headache.
2. Eyes sensitive to light.
3. Mental confusion, drowsiness, lethargy, or irritability.
4. Delirium, seizures, or coma.
5. Possibly, in encephalitis case only, paralysis.
6. Stiff neck, shoulders, or back.
7. Rarely, in meningitis cases only, a bumpy red or purplish rash anywhere on the body.
Encephalitis in children
1. Same as in adults.
2. In infants, a bulging soft spot of the skull.
When to call a doctor
If a child or an adult shows the symptoms listed, call a doctor for emergency advice.
How to prevent it
1. Get early treatment for any serious infection or high fever.
2. Ask a doctor about immunizing your child against meningitis.
3. If you or your child have had close contact with a person who has bacterial meningitis, call a doctor for advice. Antibiotics may be advised to take toward off possible infection.
4. Avoid ticks by wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts in grassy or wooded areas.
5. Prevent insect bites.