Infectious Disease

Meningitis Program

Providing emergent care for a serious infection

If you suspect that your child may have meningitis, you should seek medical care immediately and bring him or her to the emergency department as soon as possible. Although viral meningitis can often be treated easily, bacterial meningitis is a serious, life-threatening disease that can progress rapidly.

In the emergency department at Tufts Medical Center, our pediatric specialists will order laboratory tests including a spinal tap (Lumbar puncture) in order to make an accurate diagnosis.

If your child is diagnosed with viral meningitis, he or she can usually be successfully treated at home by taking over-the-counter pain medications and drinking plenty of fluids. It is still important to schedule an appointment for a re-evaluation in the next 1-2 days and continue to monitor for any worsening symptoms.

If it is suspected that your child may have bacterial meningitis, the doctors in the emergency department at Tufts Medical Center will start antibiotics through an IV as soon as possible. We will admit your child into the hospital and will keep a close watch over his or her medical condition.

Once your child has stabilized, we will schedule a primary follow-up appointment with our Pediatric Infectious Disease specialists. These doctors will monitor your child long-term for complications that often arise in children who’ve had bacterial meningitis, including:

  • Hearing loss
  • Seizures
  • Heart, kidney and adrenal gland issues
  • Neurological problems

Although we monitor children for these issues, most who receive prompt diagnosis and treatment are able to fully recover.

Preventing meningitis

The best way to prevent meningitis is to make sure that your child gets all of the recommended childhood vaccines. In particular, you should talk to your child’s pediatrician about the meningococcal vaccine, which specifically prevents one type of bacterial meningitis.

To make an appointment, please call 617-636-8100.