A classic symptom of meningitis is a blotchy rash that doesn't fade when a glass is rolled over it, but this doesn't appear in many cases. Meningitis can strike quickly and kill within hours. Make sure you know the signs and symptoms and seek urgent medical help if concerned. Trust your instincts and don't wait until a rash develops, see the symptoms box.
Meningitis is a swelling around the brain. It is a very serious, contagious illness, but if it is treated early most children make a full recovery.
Sepsis (often called septicaemia or blood poisoning) is a life threatening condition triggered by an infection. The skin may also develop pinprick bruises or large purple areas, which do not change colour if you roll a glass tumbler over them. This is a common sign of meningococcal septicaemia, a type of blood poisoning caused by the meningococcus bacteria, which can also cause meningitis.
You should always treat any case of suspected meningitis or septicaemia as an emergency.
Early signs may be like having a cold or flu. Children with meningitis can become seriously ill very fast, so make sure you can spot the signs. Your child may have a cluster of red or purple spots. Do the glass test. This rash can be harder to see on darker skin, so check for spots over your child’s whole body as it can start anywhere (check lightest areas first). However, the rash is not always present - be aware of all the signs/symptoms.
The presence of fever and any other of the above symptoms should be taken extremely seriously.