CONDITIONS A-Z

Meningitis and Septicemia

Meningitis is an infection of the lining around the brain and spinal cord. Septicemia is a blood poisoning by the same germ. Both can develop very rapidly into life-threatening conditions.

Although children are now being vaccinated against one form of meningitis, the infection can be caused by the other bacteria as well, so it is vital that all parents know the signs.

See detailed section on Septicemia here: www.familyhealthguide.co.uk/septicemia.html

Signs of Meningitis

  • Severe headache

  • Stiff neck

  • Dislike of bright lights.

  • Fever / Vomiting

  • Drowsiness

  • Rash

Signs of Septicemia (see detailed section on septicemia)

  • Fever / Vomiting

  • Cold hands and feet

  • Rapid breathing

  • Joint / Muscle pain

  • Stomach pain (sometimes with diarrhoea)

  • Drowsiness

  • Rash

Other signs in babies

  • Tense or bulging fontanel (soft spot on the scalp)

  • Blotchy skin Pale complexion

  • Refusing to eat

  • High pitched or moaning cry

  • Irritable when picked up

  • Stiff body with jerky movement or else floppy and lifeless

  • Difficult to wake or lethargic

Symptoms can appear in any order and not every child gets all the symptoms. If you are worried about someone who is ill, or your child has some of these symptoms, seek medical help immediately.

The rash is the most telltale sign of meningitis / septicemia and 'The Tumbler test' is the best way to identify the rash. Press a glass tumbler firmly against the rash. If you can see the rash through the glass then get medical help immediately (it is harder to see on dark skin so check paler areas).

Do not wait for the rash. It may be the last symptom to appear, and in some cases it may not even appear at all.

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