24/09/2012 14:14 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Meningitis: How To Spot The Signs

A new awareness campaign to help parents spot the signs and look out for meningitis has been launched by three national charities.

The Meningitis: Keep Watching campaign from Meningitis Research Foundation, Meningitis Trust and Meningitis UK includes the above video, and comes as two-thirds of parents in the UK are unaware that current vaccinations do not protect children from all forms of the disease.

This can lead to parents missing the symptoms and delays in seeking medical advice.

"Vaccination is the only way to protect children against meningitis but current vaccinations do not provide protection against all types of the disease," says Dr Nelly Ninis, Consultant Paediatrician at St Mary's Hospital London.

"Because of this, it is important to know the symptoms and seek urgent medical advice if you suspect your child has meningitis.


Meningitis can kill within hours so parents need to be aware that this disease is still a real threat to their children.


Watch the film above to find out more about spotting the signs of meningitis, and visit to test your knowledge.

"About meningitis"


Meningitis is inflammation of the lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. The blood poisoning form of the disease is called septicaemia. It can affect anyone, however the majority of cases occur in children under five years, with those under one year most at risk.

As many as one in 10 of those who get bacterial meningitis will die and survivors can be left with after-effects which can be as severe as brain damage, limb amputations and hearing loss.

Meningitis can progress with shocking speed and kill within hours.

Symptoms can appear in any order and some may not appear at all. The first symptoms are usually fever, vomiting, headache and feeling unwell, just like many mild illnesses.

More specific symptoms include joint pain, cold hands and feet, rash that does not disappear under pressure (tumbler test), stiff neck, confusion and dislike of bright lights.

Infants may appear irritable, refuse to eat, have a stiff body with jerky movements or seem floppy, and may have a bulging fontanelle (soft spot on their head).


Waiting for a rash can be too late - it is one of the last symptoms to develop and sometimes doesn't appear at all.


For more detailed information on meningitis, visit the charity websites:

Meningitis Research Foundation

Meningitis Trust

Meningitis UK