What is meningitis?

There are two types of meningitis; viral and bacterial.

Viral meningitis is hardly ever life-threatening but can make sufferers fairly weak. Viral meningitis cannot be helped with antibiotics.

Bacterial meningitis can be very serious and needs urgent treatment with antibiotics.

How can you tell if someone has meningitis?

Meningitis is not easy to spot at first because the symptoms are similar to those of flu. Recognising the symptoms early enough could mean the difference between life and death. Many symptoms of meningitis are shown below; these symptoms may not all appear at the same time:

General An important symptom is a blotchy rash which does not temporarily disappear when pressed with a glass – this is a simple test which you can apply yourself.
In Adults Vomiting, very high temperature, violent or severe headache, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights, drowsiness or lack of energy, painful joints, fits, rash.
In Babies Fever with cold hands and feet, food refusal or vomiting, high-pitched moaning cry or whimpering, being fretful and uncomfortable at being picked up, neck retraction with an arched back, difficulty in waking or stirring, lack of energy, pale and blotchy complexion, rash.

What do I do if I think someone might have meningitis?

  1. Contact your doctor immediately.
  2. Explain why you are concerned and describe the symptoms carefully.
  3. If your doctor is unavailable, go to the casualty department of your hospital.