Meningitis: How do you spot the signs?

Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes Credit: Lynne Cameron/PA

Meningitis Now is calling for free vaccinations against meningococcal group B disease (Meningitis B) to be extended to all children within a family where there has been a case of meningitis. But how can you spot the symptoms?

What are the symptoms of the disease and what should you do if you think you've got it?

Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord.

This infection causes these membranes (the meninges) to become inflamed, which in some cases can damage the nerves and brain.

Signs and symptoms of meningitis: Anyone can get meningitis, but babies and young children under five years of age are most at risk.

  • A baby or young child with meningitis may have a high fever, with cold hands and feet

  • Vomit and refuse to fee

  • Feel agitated and not want to be picked up

  • Become drowsy, floppy and unresponsive

  • Grunt or breathe rapidly

  • Have an unusual high-pitched or moaning cry

  • Have pale, blotchy skin, and a red rash that doesn't fade when a glass is rolled over it

  • Have a tense, bulging soft spot on their head

  • Have a stiff neck and dislike bright lights, have convulsions or seizures

Around 10 per cent of people who contract the infection die, while many others are left with permanent disabilities.