Symptoms

Bacterial meningitis can be severe and fatal and therefore requires immediate antibiotic treatment. If you notice symptoms of meningitis, do not delay, consult a doctor or go to the accident and emergency department immediately.

What are the symptoms of meningitis?

As soon as the symptoms of meningitis appear, you must contact a doctor or go to the hospital as soon as possible.

The following symptoms appear between 2 and 10 days after infection, 4 days on average: 

  • headaches 
  • fever
  • vomiting
  • stiff neck
  • joint pains
  • photophobia (intolerance of light)
  • skin rash (red spots called petechiae, that don't fade under pressure)
  • confusion
  • drowsiness
  • neurological symptoms (paralysis)
  • etc.

DID YOU KNOW? Invasive meningococcal diseases can cause meningitis and/or septicaemia (an infection of the blood).

Sciensano hosts the National Reference Centre (NRC) which provides epidemiological monitoring for the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus) and Listeria monocytogenes (listeria). The Belgian Official Medicines Control Laboratory (OMCL) of Sciensano, together with the European OMCL network, is responsible for the quality control of the meningitis vaccine prior to marketing.

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