If you suspect your child has symptoms of meningitis, it is advised that you seek emergency medical care as quickly as possible at an A&E department.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, which are the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It can affect people of all ages, but it is most common in babies and children, with children under five being most at risk, followed by college students aged 15-19.
Bacterial meningitis should be treated as an emergency, as life-threatening complications can develop in a matter of hours. When left untreated it can cause brain damage and septicaemia, and 1 in 10 cases is fatal. Viral meningitis, on the other hand, is not a serious condition, and often goes undiagnosed due to the mildness of the symptoms.
Key symptoms to look out for are:
- high fever with unusually cold hands and feet
- neck stiffness, headache
- continuous crying
- drowsiness, difficulty being woken up
- confusion, unresponsiveness
- light sensitivity
- blue lips
- blotchy red rash that does not disappear under pressure – roll a glass over the skin to check