DERBYSHIRE MENINGITIS CASES: What are the symptoms to look out for?

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Two cases of meningitis have been confirmed in Derbyshire, with one child sadly dying, and another in hospital.

Public Health England confirmed both cases were in Dronfield.

The NHS states that any suspected case of meningitis should be treated as a medical emergency and help should be sought immediately.

There are two types of meningitis - bacterial and viral.

Babies and children under five years old are most at risk of developing bacterial meningitis.

Symptoms to look out for (taken from the NHS website)

A baby or young child with meningitis may:

• have a high fever, with cold hands and feet

• vomit and refuse to feed

• feel agitated and not want to be picked up

• become drowsy, floppy and unresponsive

• grunt or breathe rapidly

• have an unusual high-pitched moaning cry

• have pale, blotchy skin, and a red rash that doesn’t fade when a glass is rolled over it

• have a tense, bulging soft spot on their head

• have a stiff neck and dislike bright lights

• have convulsions or seizures.

Symptoms can appear in any order, and some may not appear at all. The rash can be harder to see on dark skin so parents are advised to check for spots on paler areas like the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, on the tummy, inside the eyelids and on the roof of the mouth.

However, don’t wait for a rash to develop. If your child is unwell and getting worse, seek medical help immediately.

In older children, teenagers and adults, symptoms of meningitis can include:

• a fever, with cold hands and feet

• vomiting

• drowsiness and difficulty waking up

• confusion and irritability

• severe muscle pain

• pale, blotchy skin, and a distinctive rash (although not everyone will have this)

• a severe headache

• stiff neck

• sensitivity to light (photophobia)

• convulsion or seizures.

Again, symptoms can appear in any order, and not everyone will get all of them.

The glass test

If you press the side of a clear glass firmly against the skin and the rash doesn’t fade, it’s a sign of meningococcal septicaemia.

A person with septicaemia may have a rash of tiny “pin pricks” that later develops into purple bruising.

A fever with a rash that doesn’t fade under pressure is a medical emergency, and you should seek immediate medical help.

Viral meningitis

Most people with viral meningitis will have mild flu-like symptoms, such as:

• headaches

• fever

• generally not feeling very well

In more severe cases of viral meningitis, symptoms may include:

• neck stiffness

• muscle or joint pain

• nausea and vomiting

• diarrhoea

• sensitivity to light (photophobia)

Unlike bacterial meningitis, viral meningitis doesn’t usually lead to septicaemia (blood poisoning).

For more information, see http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Meningitis/Pages/Introduction.aspx.