Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord (meninges).
It can affect anyone, but is most common in babies, young children, teenagers and young adults.
Meningitis can be very serious if not treated quickly. It can cause life-threatening blood poisoning (septicaemia) and result in permanent damage to the brain or nerves.
A number of vaccinations are available that offer some protection against meningitis.
Symptoms of meningitis
Symptoms of meningitis develop suddenly and can include:
- a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
- 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 neck
- a dislike of bright lights
- drowsiness or unresponsiveness
- seizures (fits)
- high pitched cry
These symptoms can appear in any order and some may not appear.
The NHS has more information about Meningitis
The Meningitis glass test
- Press the side of a clear glass firmly against the skin
- Spots/rash may fade at first
- Keep checking
- Fever with spots/rash that do not fade under pressure is a medical emergency
- Do not wait for a rash. If someone is ill and getting worse, get medical help immediately
On dark skin, the spots/rash can be more difficult to see.