Totwatch/ Menningitis

Totwatch/ Menningitis


What are Meningitis and Septicaemia?
Meningitis is inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord – the meninges. Septicaemia is blood poisoning caused by the same germs and is the more life threatening form of the disease. Septicaemia can occur with or without meningitis.

Know the symptoms
Meningitis and septicaemia can be hard to recognise at first. Symptoms can appear in any order, but the first symptoms are usually fever, vomiting, headache and feeling unwell, just like many mild illnesses. The ‘red flag’ symptoms often appear earlier than meningitis symptoms, like neck stiffness
and dislike of light, before the more serious symptoms.

• Septicaemia Meningitis
• Fever and /or vomiting
• Severe headache
• Limb/joint/muscle pain (sometimes stomach pain/diarrhoea)
• Cold hands and feet/shivering
• Pale or mottled skin
• Breathing fast/breathless
• Rash (anywhere on the body)
• Stiff neck (less common in young children)
• Dislike of bright lights (less common in young children)
• Very sleepy/vacant/difficult to wake
• Confused/delirious
• Seizures (fits) may also be seen

Other signs in babies:
• Tense or bulging soft spot on their head.
• Refusing to feed.
• Irritable when picked up, with a high pitched or moaning cry.
• A stiff body with jerky movements, or else floppy and lifeless.
• Fever is often absent in babies less than three months of age
• Septicaemia can occur with or without meningitis. Not everyone gets all the symptoms and they can appear in any order.

What should I do if I am worried about someone who is ill?
Trust your instincts. Someone who has meningitis or septicaemia could become seriously ill very quickly. Get medical help immediately if you suspect meningitis or septicaemia – it’s a race against time.


If you are seriously worried about someone who is ill, don’t wait for a rash to appear – get medical help. But if they are already ill and get a new rash or spots, use the Tumbler Test.

1. Press a clear glass tumbler firmly against the rash. If you can see the marks clearly through the glass seek urgent medical help immediately.
2. Check the entire body. Look out for tiny red or brown pin-prick marks which can change into larger red or purple blotches and blood blisters.
3. The darker the skin the harder it is to see a septicaemic rash so check lighter areas like the palms of hands and soles of feet or look inside the eyelids and the
roof of the mouth.

Remember, a very ill person needs medical help even if there are only a few spots, a rash or no rash at all.

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