Pneumococcal meningitis is caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae (also called pneumococcus). The bacteria is the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in adults, and the second most common cause of meningitis in children older than age 2.
Unusual posture, with the head and neck arched backwards (opisthotonos)
Pneumococcal meningitis is an important cause of fever in children and newborns.
Signs and tests
Physical examination will usually show:
Fast heart rate
Mental status changes
For any patient who is suspected of having meningitis, it is important to perform a lumbar puncture ("spinal tap"), in which spinal fluid (known as cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF) is collected for testing.
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Jatin M. Vyas, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.