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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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103° Fever
July 2000

Q. My son has a fever over 103, headache, dizziness, vomiting and a rash that is nickel size, red and flush with his skin. Any ideas?

A. Your son may have one of several possible illnesses. Hopefully it is just a non-specific viral syndrome. However, it would be important to rule out meningitis as well. Meningitis is an infection of the lining of the spinal cord and spinal fluid. The cardinal symptoms are fever, headache and stiff neck. Rashes, nausea and vomiting may also occur. Viruses and bacteria are the most common bugs that can cause meningitis. It can be serious, even life threatening if bacterial meningitis is not treated promptly with intravenous antibiotics. A spinal tap can be done by putting a needle into the back to obtain a sample of spinal fluid to exclude this serious infection. There are now some vaccines available to help prevent some types of meningitis. Hopefully by now, you have already had your son evaluated and treated. The prognosis is quite good if caught early. If not, it is possible to sustain some permanent brain damage.

I hope he is feeling better.

Ref: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/meningitis_g.htm

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