Pediatric meningitis is a serious condition that can put your child or teen’s health at risk. Because meningitis is easily spread among individuals in close quarters, children who attend Salt Lake City schools or daycares are at an increased risk of contracting the disease.

The early signs of viral meningitis can mirror influenza symptoms, which may make it difficult to identify. Symptoms of bacterial meningitis often present more quickly and more severely than those of viral meningitis; however, both infections can be dangerous if not treated or monitored closely. This is especially true if the child has underlying or chronic health conditions.

Seek the attention of a Utah doctor or emergency provider immediately if your child or teen is experiencing one or more of the symptoms associated with pediatric meningitis.

Pediatric Meningitis Symptoms: What to Look For

Symptoms of pediatric meningitis vary based on the age and overall health of the child. The first symptoms often present quickly, but some individuals show only moderate signs. Keeping a close eye on your child or teen will prevent further complications.

     Pediatric meningitis symptoms include:

  • Fever, often very high
  • Headache, often worse than a “normal” headache
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Stiff neck (the inability to touch the chin to the chest is common)
  • Skin rashes
  • General lethargy or lack of consciousness
  • Seizures

Pediatric Meningitis Symptoms in Infants: Additional Signs

In addition to the symptoms listed above, there are several signs of pediatric meningitis specific to infants and very young children.

  • Bulging or swelling of the soft spot at the top of the skull
  • Lower-than-average body temperature
  • Difficulty eating, lack of hunger
  • A weak suck if child is breast or bottle-feeding
  • Stiffness in the body
  • A high-pitched cry

What to Do if You Suspect Your Child has Pediatric Meningitis

Again, it is critical you consult a Utah healthcare provider if you suspect your child has pediatric meningitis or has been exposed to the disease. Although viral meningitis may clear up on its own with few complications, both bacterial and viral pediatric meningitis may require hospitalization.

The complications of bacterial pediatric meningitis can be severe and could put a child’s life in danger. Some kids require IV fluids, anticonvulsants or oxygen therapy while they recover from the infection. Furthermore, bacterial meningitis can have long-lasting effects on the adrenal glands, kidney, heart and hearing of a child or teenager.

A Salt Lake City pediatrician or ER provider can tell you if a lumbar puncture is needed to confirm a meningitis infection. Contact them immediately if you are concerned about your child’s symptoms.

Salt Lake City Clinical Trials for Pediatric Meningitis

Jean Brown Research is currently conducting a Salt Lake City clinical study for an investigational vaccine to prevent meningitis in healthy children ages 10 to 17 years old. Qualified participants will receive a no-cost vaccination, study-related care and compensation for time and travel.

Visit the Salt Lake City pediatric meningitis study page to see if your son or daughter may qualify.