Meningitis is an infection of
the membranes that surround the brain and the spinal
cord. Meningitis can be caused by bacteria or a virus. Anyone
can get meningitis, whatever age they are, but babies and young
children under five are most at risk.
Meningitis can be very serious. If you suspect
meningitis you must call 999 or 112 immediately,
so they can get to hospital to be treated as soon as
If spotted early, and treated quickly, most
people make a full recovery.
Watch our video - Meningitis
What to look for - Meningitis
If someone has meningitis, they won’t usually
show all the symptoms and signs at the same time. But these are the
key things to look for:
• flu-like illness with a temperature
• cold hands and feet
• joint and limb pain
• blotchy or very pale skin
As the meningitis infection
• severe headache
• neck stiffness
• eyes become sensitive to light
• in babies – high-pitched moaning or a
whimpering cry, floppiness, and a tense, bulging soft spot on their
Later you may see a distinctive rash of
red or purple spots that doesn’t fade when pressed.
What you need to do - Meningitis
• If someone has any of the signs of meningitis, like shielding
their eyes from the light, call 999 or 112 for emergency medical
help straight away and treat the fever.
• Check to see if they have a rash, with most rashes if you
press the spots with the side of a glass, the spots will fade – if
they don’t fade, call 999 or 112 for medical help at once.
• While you’re waiting for help to arrive, reassure them and
keep them cool.
• Keep checking their breathing, pulse and level of