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Meningitis - The Facts

Meningitis is a devastating disease which can kill in hours. 10% percent of those who contract bacterial meningitis will die; whilst many others are left with severe disabilities such as deafness, brain damage and, where septicaemia has occurred, limb loss. The under 5s, 16-24s and the over 55s age groups are most at risk from the disease.

The Meningitis Trust is a registered charity founded in Stroud, Gloucestershire, in 1986 by people who had a direct experience of meningitis. It reduces the devastating impact of meningitis by:
  • raising awareness of the disease with health professionals and the general public prompt action can save a life or reduce the likelihood of after-effects
  • providing the professional services and support to everyone affected, for as long as they need it helping people to rebuild their lives
  • empowering other people and organisations by working together - improving aftercare for people affected by meningitis in the UK and beyond
  • continuing to be the leading authority on the after-effects and aftercare of meningitis - fighting for those who need support for life
Working in the community
Groups and key supporters are an invaluable resource to the Trust. Community Help Groups campaign to heighten awareness, raises much needed funds and support others. If you have had a personal experience of meningitis or would just like to get involved in the work of the Trust contact us on 01453 768000.

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Knowing the Signs and Symptoms

Meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia may not always be easy to spot at first, because the symptoms can be similar to those of flu. They may develop over one or two days, but sometimes develop in a matter of hours.
Symptoms do not appear in any particular order and some may not appear at all. It is important to remember that other symptoms may occur. If you suspect meningitis, seek urgent medical attention. Look for:

In babies:
  • High temperature, fever, possibly with cold hands and feet
  • Vomiting, or refusing feeds
  • High pitched moaning, whimpering cry
  • Blank, staring expression
  • Pale, blotchy complexion
  • Baby may be floppy, may dislike being handled, be fretful
  • Fontanelle (soft spot on their head) may be tense or bulging
  • Difficult to wake or lethargic

In children and adults:
  • High temperature, fever, possibly with cold hands and feet
  • Vomiting, sometimes diarrhoea
  • Severe headache
  • Neck stiffness (unable to touch the chin to the chest)
  • Joint or muscle pains, sometimes stomach cramps with septicaemia
  • Dislike of bright lights
  • Drowsiness
  • Fitting
  • Patient may be confused or disoriented
Both adults and children may have a rash

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