What is Meningitis?
Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord.
It can affect anyone, but is most common in babies, young children, teenagers and young adults.
The disease can be very serious if not treated quickly, it can cause life-threatening blood poisoning and result in permanent damage to the brain or nerves.
There are a number of vaccinations available that offer some protection against the disease.
It is currently available for free on the NHS to all babies born after May 1, 2015, meaning babies that are not aged between two and six months old or were born before the national vaccination programme was introduced, are left unprotected.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms 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 necka dislike of bright lightsdrowsiness or unresponsivenessseizures (fits)
When do you need medical help?
You should get medical advice as soon as possible if you are concerned that you or your child could have meningitis.
Trust your instincts and don't wait until a rash develops.
Call 999 for an ambulance or go to your nearest 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.