Early symptoms of meningococcal disease are difficult to distinguish from those of more common but less serious illnesses. This lack of distinct IMD-specific early symptoms often results in initial misdiagnosis.
It also leads to delays in taking appropriate and potentially life-saving treatment options.
Intervention often does not occur until identification of later symptoms that are IMD-specific, such as:
- Haemorrhagic rash (i.e., rash associated with bleeding under the skin surface)
- Neck stiffness
IMD can progress from non-specific symptoms in the first 0–8 hours to close to death by 24 hours: 1
Early signs and symptoms are non-specific and can resemble other, less serious conditions
N. meningitidis replicates rapidly in the body, classic meningitis symptoms appear such as cold hands/feet, haemorrhagic rash, neck stiffness, photophobia, meningism, bulged fontanelle (in infants < 1 year of age)
May progress from non-specific symptoms to death within 24 hours: