Testing & Diagnosis for Meningococcal Infections in Children

How does a doctor know that it's a meningococcal infection?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, your child's doctor may want to perform:

  • A lumbar puncture (spinal tap)
    • special needle is placed into the lower back, into the spinal canal
    • measures the pressure in the spinal canal and brain
    • small amount of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) can be removed and sent for testing to determine if there is an infection or other problems
    • not be recommended if your child is very ill
  • Blood cultures
    • Culture of skin lesions or rash
    • Additional blood work (to evaluate bleeding times and cell counts)