Meningitis is fortunately very rare, but serious and potentially fatal.


The majority of symptoms of meningitis are similar to those of a great number of other illnesses and it is virtually impossible to distinguish them in the early stages.


In meningitis, however, the symptoms progress rapidly and the patient becomes obviously ill.  Most young children are now immunised against one of the more serious forms.


Symptoms of meningitis in babies include:

  • irritability

  • stiffness

  • floppiness

  • bulging soft spot on the head (fontanelle)

  • poor feeding

  • temperature

  • drowsiness

  • purplish blotchy rash which doesn’t fade when a glass is pressed against it

Symptoms of meningitis in children and adults include:

  • headache

  • vomiting

  • irritability

  • temperature

  • drowsiness

  • neck stiffness – inability to put the chin forward onto the chest

  • dislike of bright lights

  • severe headache

  • purplish blotchy rash which doesn’t fade when a glass is pressed against it

Contact the doctor straight away if

  • you suspect the patient may have meningitis

  • you have had close contact with a patient thought to have meningitis