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More information about helping people who havemeningitis

Here are some questions people often ask. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, please feel free to email us at firstaid@redcross.org.uk or use this form.

Q

What is meningitis?

Answer
Answer

Meningitis is a disorder in which the linings that surround the brain and spinal cord swell up. It can be caused by different types of bacteria or a virus, and can happen to anyone at any age.

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Q

How do I check whether a rash is a sign of meningitis?

Answer
Answer

Rashes usually appear in the later stages of meningitis and sometimes do not appear at all.

If the person has a rash, press the side of a clear glass against their skin - most rashes will fade when pressed. If you can still see the rash through the glass it is possibly meningitis.

If you suspect meningitis but they do not have a rash, call 999 immediately. Do not wait for a rash to appear to call 999

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Q

What does the rash look like?

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Answer

The rash is made up of small red/purple ‘pin prick’ spots that may spread to look like fresh bruising. The rash is more difficult to see on dark skin. The rash does not disappear when a glass is pressed against it.

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Q

Will the symptoms be different for a baby?

Answer
Answer

Infants may have any of the same signs and symptoms as those described previously. In addition, they may also have a high-pitched cry, or become floppy. The soft part on the top of their head may become hard or bulging.

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