What is meningitis?
Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes (known as meninges) that surround the brain and spinal cord.
What causes meningitis?
There are three types of meningitis; bacterial, viral and fungal. Meningitis is usually caused by a bacterial or viral infection. Bacterial meningitis is rarer but more serious than viral meningitis.
Infections that cause meningitis can be spread through:
- Sharing utensils, cutlery and toothbrushes
Meningitis is usually caught from people who carry these viruses or bacteria in their nose or throat, but are not ill themselves.
It can also be caught from someone with meningitis, but this is less common.
What are the symptoms of meningitis?
Common symptoms of meningitis include:
- High fever
- Stiff neck
- A red or purple blotchy rash which does not disappear when pressed with a clear glass tumbler (this can start as tiny red or brown pin prick marks)
Other symptoms include:
- Cold hands and feet
- A dislike of bright lights
Meningitis can be extremely dangerous if not taken care of immediately. A bacterial infection can be fatal within days without antibiotics. Delayed treatment increases the risk of permanent brain damage or death.