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First aid: Dealing with Meningitis

Meningitis may be caused by a virus or by bacteria. It can affect anyone, but babies and young children are most at risk.

If you suspect meningitis, call 999 or 112 immediately. If treated early, most people make a full recovery.

Here’s what to look for if you suspect someone has meningitis:

  • Flu-like symptoms with a temperature
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Pain in joints and limbs
  • Pale, blotchy skin

If left untreated this can also lead to:

  • Severe headache
  • Stiffness of the neck
  • Vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Drowsiness
  • In babies, a high-pitched moaning or whimpering, floppiness, and a bulging soft spot on the head

You may also notice a rash of red or purple spots that doesn’t fade when pressed.

If you suspect meningitis, here’s what you should do:

  1. Call 999 or 112 immediately.
  2. Check to see if there’s a rash and press the spots with the side of a glass. If they don’t fade, it could be meningitis.
  3. While waiting for help to arrive, keep them calm, cool and reassured.
  4. Continue to check their breathing and level of response.
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