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District Departments » Frenship Health Services » Bacterial Meningitis

Bacterial Meningitis

The following information is provided by Texas Department of State Health Services.
Invasive meningococcal infection is caused by a bacterium called Neisseria meningitidis (N. meningitidis).

Although N. meningitidis is a very severe pathogen, it is not as contagious as viruses that cause the common cold or the flu. The bacteria are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been. 

N. meningitidis spreads from person to person either by:

  • Direct contact with respiratory and throat secretions (e.g. kissing)
  • Indirect contact (e.g. sharing of eating utensils, toothbrushes), or
  • Aerosol droplets (e.g. coughing and sneezing).

Symptoms of invasive meningococcal disease can be different depending on the type of infection the bacteria have caused. The most common symptoms are high fever, chills, drowsiness, and a rash. 

  • Symptoms of meningococcal meningitis may include headache, fever, and stiffness of the neck, sometimes accompanied by nausea, vomiting, visual sensitivity to light, or mental confusion.
  • In newborns and small infants, the classic symptoms of fever, headache, and neck stiffness may be absent or difficult to notice. The infant may appear slow or inactive, have vomiting, be irritable, or be feeding poorly.
  • The symptoms of meningococcemia (infection in the bloodstream) may include a sudden onset of fever and a rash of small purplish spots. In addition to meningitis and septicemia, pneumonia, arthritis, pericarditis, endocarditis, and other clinical presentations also may be observed.

Complications of meningococcal invasive disease can result in permanent hearing loss, brain damage, loss of limbs, and death.

School Exclusion Policy
Children with meningococcal infections (meningitis or bloodstream infections caused by N. meningitidis) should be kept out of school or childcare until they have been treated appropriately with antibiotics, have written permission from a healthcare provider, and are fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever-suppressing medications. Rules for exclusion of sick children from school and childcare are outlined in the Texas Administrative Code, specifically  Rule 97.7 for schools and  Rule 746.3603 for childcare.

Please CLICK HERE for information from the Texas Department of State Health Services on N. meningitidis.

Additional Links:
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention: Meningitis Information & Types of Meningitis