Recognising the signs of meningitis in your baby or child

Meningitis Awareness

Did you know…

  • That the under 5’s are the most at risk group?
  • That there are around 40 different bacteria, viruses and fungus that could cause meningitis?
  • That meningitis is airborne and spread by very close contact?
  • That 3 people in every 100,000 will get meningitis each year?
  • That the rash which doesn’t fade under pressure is one of the later signs of meningitis?

Meningitis can be fatal, may cause loss of limbs, sight or hearing and can leave people with brain damage and learning difficulties.

It can be treated, but the more the disease progresses, the more difficult treatment becomes. That’s why it is essential to know the earlier signs and act if you suspect your child may have the disease.

Signs of meningitis which could be confused with other conditions are:

High fever 40C+, lethargy, not wanting to eat/drink, irritability, flu-like symptoms, nausea, vomiting

More unusual signs which could point to meningitis are:

In babies, turning away from bright lights, dislike of being held, high pitched pain cry, grunting/rapid shallow breathing, floppy & unresponsive, soft spot (fontanelle) bulging out

In older children, dislike of bright lights, stiff neck, severe headache, unresponsive, severe muscle pain, convulsions/seizures.

If you notice even one of the more unusual symptoms, this should alert you to seek medical help immediately. In particular, babies can deteriorate very quickly if not treated.

NEVER EVER wait for a rash – the rash is a late sign and is septicemia (blood poisoning).

For more information about meningitis including the new Men-B vaccination, visit