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Meningitis worries all parents, particularly those whose child develops 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. Remember that meningococcal meningitis is NOT easy to catch, and that as yet there is no confirmation of cases in Haverhill. We also currently have scarlet fever in Haverhill, which also causes a rash and temperature.

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.

signs and symptomssigns and symptoms

The Glass Test

Spots or a rash will still be seen when the side of a clear drinking glass is pressed firmly against the skin

glass testA fever, together with spots or a rash that do not fade under pressure, is a medical emergency.

Trust your instincts. If you suspect meningitis or septicaemia, seek medical help immediately.

Call 111 when you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergencyNHS ChoicesThis site is brought to you by My Surgery Website