Meningitis worries all parents, particularly those whose child developes a rash. There are lots of rashes around at the moment, including chicken pox, scarlet fever and slapped cheek disease.

The following information may help you make a judgement as to whether you should be concerned about meningitis. Meningitis information (from the Meningitis Health Trust)
Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the linings that surround and protect the brain. It can be caused by many different organisms including bacteria and viruses.
Septicaemia (blood poisoning) is caused when bacteria enter the bloodstream and multiply. Meningococcal bacteria can cause both meningitis and septicaemia. Together these are known as meningococcal disease.
Most cases of meningitis happen alone, but when there is a case of meningococcal disease, there is a small chance that further cases can happen. If you are concerned that you may have been in close contact with someone who has meningococcal disease then you can call NHS Direct, your local out of house GP service, or the Meningitis Trust's 24 hour nurse led helpline.

(UK) 0800 028 18 28
Signs and symptoms
Meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning) are not always easy to recognise, and symptoms can appear in any order. Some may not appear at all. In the early stages, the signs and symptoms can be similar to many other more common illnesses, for example flu.

Early symptoms can include fever, headache, nausea (feeling sick), vomiting (being sick), and muscle pain, with cold hands and feet.

A rash that does not fade under pressure (see ‘The Glass Test’) may be a sign of meningococcal disease. This rash may begin as a few small spots and can spread quickly to look like fresh bruises. However, if someone is ill or is obviously getting worse, do not wait for spots or a rash to appear. They may appear late or may not appear at all.

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