Not long, just hours. Left untreated, bacterial meningitis is deadly, leading to death in hours to days. Even when treated appropriately, the risk of death still remains very high at 10%. Neurologic complications can occur despite the best of intentions. Check out http://www. Mayoclinic. Com/health/meningitis/ds00118 & http://my. Clevelandclinic. Org/disorders/meningitis/hic_bacterial_meningitis. Aspx for more information.
Luck/good docs. Some forms of bacterial meningitis are more aggressive & time sensitive than others which leaves a narrow window for recognition and treatment to be successful. Some patients have better individual response to germ invasion which slows the germ until meds kick in. If you have an aggressive germ and a poor immune system you are more likely to die, even when treatment is started quickly.
Varies. Different bacteria produce bacterial meningitis, so there is not a universal answer to this question. Nevertheless, usually close contact with human secretions is necessary to produce meningitis. The bacteria that commonly cause bacterial meningitis due not typically survive for a long period of time outside the human body.
Doubt it. Think of your "carrier centers"-the nasal passages & upper airway/throat as a hotel. Germs check in, stay for a while & leave. Some, including those causing meningitis can cause infection or just pass along in your saliva and end up on a doorknob or banister. Many will come back. The only germ we know to persist in prolonged carriage is group A strep, which often doesn't affect carriers.