This week it is National Meningitis Awareness week 2013. The weeks timing coincides with an increase in Meningitis cases being reported as we head in to the winter months .

What is Meningitis?

Meningitis is an infection of the meninges (protective membranes) that surround the brain and spinal cord. The infection causes the meninges to become inflamed (swollen), which in some cases can damage the nerves and brain.

What are the signs of Meningitis?

Anyone of any age can get meningitis, but babies and young children are often affected. The signs and symptoms to look out for in your child are:

  • a very high fever with cold hands and feet
  • they may feel agitated but not want to be touched
  • they may cry continuously
  • some children can become very sleepy and it may be difficult to wake them up
  • they may appear confused and unresponsive
  • they may develop a blotchy red rash that does not fade when you roll a glass over it

In older children and adults, the symptons of meningitis can include:

  • severe headache
  • vomiting
  • high temperature (fever) of 38ºC (100.4ºF) or over
  • stiff neck
  • sensitivity to light
  • rapid breathing
  • a general feeling of being unwell
  • a distinctive skin rash (although not everyone will have this)


If you notice any of the symptoms of meningitis, particularly in young children, seek medical help immediately.


FATE run a first aid course for parents that especially looks at common childhood illnesses including meningitis. To find out more about the course, click here