should I do if I suspect that my child has meningitis?
is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord and can
be a very serious illness. This depends very much on the type of
infection. While most patients recover entirely after viral
meningitis, some are left deaf, or blind, or die as a result of
bacterial meningitis. One of the biggest problems with meningitis is
that it can develop very quickly. Also, the symptoms can be difficult
to distinguish from other, less serious, infections.
of meningitis to look for depend on the age of the child:
will often complain of
symptoms can be much less specific:
aversion to bright lights
hands and feet
muscles and joints
or even loss of consciousness.
specifically in babies you may observe:
high-pitched, moaning cry.
septicaemia (blood poisoning) is also present, a meningitis rash may
develop that first looks like tiny red pin pricks. Later, the rash
changes to purplish red blotches. If you press on the rash with a
glass, the spots will not fade.
tense or bulging fontanel (the soft spot on the top of the baby's
or pale skin
floppy body or stiffness with jerky movements.
suspicion of meningitis is a medical emergency requiring immediate
the UK we offer children vaccination against three of the main causes
of bacterial meningitis:
(Haemophilus influenzae type B)
your doctor if:
Richmond Practice we offer the usual UK vaccinations as well as
vaccination against meningococcal groups A, C, W and Yin
(common in the "meningitis belt" of sub-Saharan Africa.) A
vaccine against meningococcal group B, which is now the most frequent
cause of bacterial meningitis in Britain, is in preparation and we
shall offer it as soon as it becomes available.
want more information and advice on the vaccines available.