- Sudden onset of fever
- Stiff neck
Often other symptoms may develop
- Increased sensitivity to light (photophobia)
- Altered mental status (confusion)
The symptoms of bacterial meningitis can appear quickly or over several days. Typically they develop within 3-7 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%, although the risk remains higher among young infants and the elderly.
The most effective way to prevent meningitis is to get the meningococcal vaccine which is available at Student Health Services. Maintaining healthy habits, like not smoking and avoiding cigarette smoke, getting plenty of rest, and not coming into close contact with people who are sick, can also help. This is especially important for young infants, the elderly, or for those with a weakened immune system, since they are at increased risk for severe disease. You can help prevent the spread of disease by increasing hygienic practices, and not sharing drinking glasses, eating utensils, smoking materials, and other items.
Please contact Student Health Services at (909) 621-8222 for any questions or concerns or contact your healthcare provider when school is not in session. For further information you may also check the Centers for Disease Control.
Jennie Ho, MD | Director | Student Health Services