Meningitis is a serious infection of the membranes with cover the brain and spinal cord (known as the meninges). Meningitis is especially common in babies and young children so it's important to know the signs and symptoms of this disease.
Signs and symptoms of meningitis
- Vomiting and refusing to feed
- Irritability / confusion
- Drowsy / floppy / unresponsive
- Rapid breathing rate
- Unusual high-pitched or moaning cry
- Pale, blotchy skin, and a red rash that doesn't fade when a glass is rolled over it
- Stiff neck
- Avoid bright lights (photophobia)
Most people are aware of the rash with accompanies meningitis. The rash which occurs is a non-blanching rash, this means if you roll a glass over it the rash doesn't disappear. This is sometimes known as the 'glass tumbler test'.
IMPORTANT: A rash only develops once meningitis is advanced and in some cases may not occur at all. If you are concerned then do not wait for a rash to appear. If you see a rash then you should seek emergency medical attention (call an ambulance).
First aid steps
Meningitis is a life-threatening medical condition which requires hospital treatment. If you suspect meningitis then do not delay in calling for emergency help.