Algoma Public Health
What is it?
- A rare infection of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord.
- A medical emergency. Must be seen by doctor immediately.
What are the symptoms?
- Appear suddenly.
- Fever, chills and intense headache.
- Nausea and often vomiting.
- Stiff neck.
- Confusion and irritability
- Frequently a pink rash. Sometime blisters will form.
- Becomes delirious. Can lead to coma and death.
How quickly do symptoms develop?
- Usually within 2 to 10 days, commonly 3 to 4 days after contact with an infected person.
How is it spread?
- By direct contact with oral secretions, including respiratory droplets, from the nose and throat of infected people.
- Examples include sharing food, drinking glasses, water bottles, eating utensils and cigarettes; performing mouth to mouth resuscitation and kissing.
How long is it contagious?
- Until the germ is no longer present in discharges from the nose and throat; i.e. usually 24-48 hours after start of antibiotic treatment.
How is it treated?
- With antibiotic medication, usually given intravenously.
- Oral antibiotic medication is often recommended for close contacts and sometimes for all daycare contacts. All household members of an infected person are considered close contacts.
What can you do?
- Make sure your child is up to date with immunizations. Children 2 months to 5 years of age are routinely immunized against one type of meningitis; i.e. Haemophilus influenza b. Children aged one year are immunized against Meningococcal C. Children in Grade 7 are immunized against 4 types of meningitis; i.e. Meningococcal A, C, Y & W-135.
- If travelling outside of Canada or U.S.A. the check with your local health unit regarding vaccination recommendations.
- Do not share personal items, including eating utensils, food, water glasses, water bottles or cigarettes.
- Practice good hand washing.
Date of Creation: June 1, 2015
Last Modified: Feb 25, 2016