Meningitis is an infection of the lining the brain and spine. Theses linings are called meninges.

It can affect anyone but is most common in babies, young children, teenagers and young adults.

It is very serious and needs treating quickly, otherwise it can go on to cause septicaemia.

Symptoms of meningitis

  • Fever (High temperature) 38C(100.4F)and above
  • Being sick
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Dislike of bright lights
  • Blotchy rash that doesn’t disappear when a glass is pressed over it
  • Drowsiness
  • Cannot be roused, lack of energy
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Breathing rapidly
  • Pale mottled skin
  • Seizure (fits)

Babies may also:

  • Refuse to feed
  • Be floppy and hard to rouse
  • Be stiff
  • Have an unusually high pitched cry
  • Be fretful and not want to be held
  • Have a swollen fontanelle (soft spot on the top of their head)

Your child may get some of these symptoms but trust your feelings and seek urgent medical attention if you are concerned that your child may have meningitis.

Meningitis rash

Don’t wait for the rash to appear before seeking medical advice

Meningitis rash         Meningitis glass test

If there is a rash and it doesn’t fade when you press a glass on it, get medical advice immediately.

In a darker skinned child, if the rash is more difficult to see, check paler areas like the tummy, palms of the hands and soles of the feet, behind the ears or the roof of the mouth.

Call 999 or go to your nearest Accident and Emergency (A&E) department if you fear that your child may be seriously ill.

If you’re not sure but are worried, call your GP or NHS 111 for advice.

Your child will be offered meningitis vaccinations as part of their routine vaccination schedule.

Useful links

ChatHealth logo

Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust runs a confidential secure text messaging service for parents of children aged 0-19 years called Chat Health. The service operates Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, excluding bank holidays. All texts will be responded to by a public health nurse (health visitor/school nurse) within 24 hours. Outside of the service working hours, you’ll receive a message back to inform you that your text will be responded to once the line reopens.

Should you require urgent health advice in the meantime, please contact your GP, visit an NHS walk-in centre or call NHS 111. For emergencies, dial 999 or visit A&E.

Leicester City: text 07520 615381

Leicestershire & Rutland: text 07520 615382

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