The onset of a sudden and high fever will often occur with meningitis as the infection enters the body and the immune system responds by increasing the body temperature. This is particularly common with bacterial meningitis, which is the most dangerous (requires emergency medical attention) but is typically easily mistaken for other common flus and illnesses. Symptoms like this typically develop quickly, within 3-7 days after being exposed to the virus.
Unfortunately, the American College of Emergency Physicians explains that while there are three common symptoms of meningitis – fever, headache and stiff neck – only 44%-66% of patients with the infection will be showing these three symptoms. In some cases, someone with bacterial meningitis might only have one or two of these symptoms at a time. This can make it difficult to diagnose in emergency medical settings, yet it’s extremely important to identify and treat bacterial meningitis as early as possible to avoid severe, long-term complications and death.