Published: Thursday 01 November 2018

We hear a lot about meningitis in the news and the devastating effects it can have, and it pays to be aware of the signs and symptoms.

Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord (meninges). It can can affect anyone and, if not treated quickly, it can cause life-threatening blood poisoning (septicaemia) and damage to nerves and brain.

Symptoms of meningitis develop suddenly and can include:

  • a high temperature (fever) over 37.5C (99.5F)
  • being sick
  • a headache
  • a blotchy rash that doesn't fade when a glass is rolled over it (this won't always develop)
  • a stiff neck
  • a dislike of bright lights
  • drowsiness or unresponsiveness
  • seizures (fits)

What to do?

  • Get medical help as soon as possible.
  • Trust your instincts and don't wait until a rash develops.
  • Call 999 for an ambulance or go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department immediately if you think you or your child might be seriously ill.
  • Call NHS 111 or your GP surgery for advice if you're not sure if it's anything serious or you think you may have been exposed to someone with meningitis.

Want a quick reference sheet? We have this information as a downloadable PDF handout. Feel free to print it out and circulate it to friends, family and colleagues.

We cover meningitis in our Baby and Child First Aid courses for parents and carers, as well as our Paediatric First Aid courses for childcare professionals, so take some time to book your course now.


  |   News archive »

Click to enlarge