Meningitis and septicaemia can strike with little or no warning, but
knowing the symptoms and acting fast can save lives. Some of the
symptoms for meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia are the same,
while others differ. Not everyone gets all of these
symptoms and they can appear in any order. In the early stages of both
diseases, symptoms can also often appear flu-like.
The most important thing to remember is to :
FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCTS AND ACT FAST.
If you think something is wrong :
GO IMMEDIATELY TO YOUR
NEAREST GP OR CASUALTY UNIT.
two types of meningococcal infections: septicaemia and meningitis. Someone
suffering from meningococcal septicaemia may not necessarily develop
meningitis. Therefore it is of the utmost importance that everyone is
aware of the common symptoms of both diseases.
common symptoms of meningococcal septicaemia
red rash (see Tumbler Test)
hands and feet
or impaired consciousness
and muscle pain
vomiting (may not be present at first)
common symptoms of bacterial meningitis
of bright lights
stiffening with jerky movements
Classic symptoms are a headache, stiff neck and dislike of bright light.
Other symptoms can include difficulty supporting own weight, fever,
vomiting and diarrhoea and confusion and drowsiness.
The symptoms of pneumococcal meningitis are the same as meningococcal
Common symptoms include aching limbs (particularly leg pain), cold hands
and feet and a rash which starts like pin prick spots and develops
rapidly into purple bruising.
Other symptoms may include difficulty supporting own weight, fever,
vomiting and diarrhoea and confusion and drowsiness, as well as
difficulty breathing and change in skin colour.
A Rash may not always
be present so do not wait for a rash to develop.
Anyone whose health rapidly deteriorates in a matter of a few hours should
seek medical attention immediately.
Not everyone gets all these symptoms, and they can appear in any order
Important: Someone who
becomes unwell rapidly should be examined particularly carefully for the
meningococcal septicaemia rash.
The majority of people (over 50%) with meningococcal septicaemia develop
a rash of tiny ‘pink prick' spots which can rapidly develop into purple
bruising. To identify the rash, press a glass tumbler against it and if
the rash does not fade, it could be meningococcal septicaemia.
TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS AND ACT
FAST. IF YOU SUSPECT EITHER DISEASE GO IMMEDIATELY TO YOUR NEAREST GP OR
If the rash does not fade
when a glass is pressed against it, it could be meningococcal
On dark skin, check
for the rash on lighter parts of the body, eg. inner eyelids or finger
Babies and Toddlers
It is particularly hard to tell when babies and toddlers are ill and
what their symptoms are. As well as the symptoms mentioned above,
additional symptoms to look out for include high pitched cry or
irritability especially when held, tense or bulging soft spot (
fontanelle ) on their head, blotchy, pale or blue skin and poor feeding.
Unfortunately, the symptoms in babies do not present in any particular
order. In the majority of cases, with babies in particular, you will
notice a rapid deterioration in their condition.
Remember - It is important to trust your instincts and if you suspect
anything is wrong, seek medical help immediately by going to your
nearest GP or Casualty Unit. Early identification and prompt treatment
can be the difference between life and death.
Sadly, there are occasions when people show no or very few symptoms,
which can make spotting the disease incredibly difficult for both
families and health professionals. This shows how important it is to
develop a vaccine to prevent the disease. The Martin Finch Memorial Fund
is committed to raise funds for this vital research work to find such a
read about the test in a newspaper, thankfully the story stayed
with me. With this disease you don't have time to think, you have
to act quickly and this test could literally mean the difference
between life and death."
Claire Talbot, Oxfordshire.
simple life-saving test must be one of the most important things
I have learnt.
It was significant in saving my son Fergus' life."
Rhona Roxburgh, Edinburgh.