Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord (meninges).
It can affect anyone, but is most common in babies, young children, teenagers and young adults.
Meningitis can be very serious if not treated quickly. It can cause life-threatening blood poisoning (septicaemia) and result in permanent damage to the brain or nerves.
Meningitis can have a number of symptoms including:
- a rash
- a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
- feeling and being sick
- irritability and a lack of energy
- a headache
- aching muscles and joints
- breathing quickly
- cold hands and feet
- pale, mottled skin
- a stiff neck
- a dislike of bright lights
- fits (seizures)
Babies may also:
- refuse feeds
- be agitated and not want to be picked up
- have a bulging soft spot on their head (fontanelle)
- be floppy or unresponsive
- have an unusual high-pitched cry
- have a stiff body
These symptoms can develop in any order and some may not appear.
A number of vaccinations are available that offer some protection against meningitis.
Men ACWY vaccine for teenagers was introduced in 2015. Since then the vaccine has been offered to pupils in Year 9 in schools, with a catch up campaign being rolled out for older pupils (Years 10 – 13) and university ‘freshers’. If students are in these age groups and are unsure if they have had the vaccine they should contact the surgery.
The MenB vaccine is recommended for babies aged 8 weeks, 16 weeks and one year as part of the NHS routine childhood vaccination programme. Some people may want to consider vaccination for themselves or their children, but they’re outside the age range for the NHS programme, private vaccination services are available in these circumstances with a number of providers listed on the internet.
Further information is available from: