Signs & symptoms
What are meningitis and septicaemia?
Meningitis and septicaemia are deadly diseases that can kill in hours.
Meningitis is the inflammation of the protective covering around the brain and spinal cord. Septicaemia is the blood poisoning form of the disease.
Meningitis and septicaemia can cause a variety of symptoms. Not everyone gets every symptom, and different kinds of meningitis may cause different symptoms.
Find out more about the symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia
Symptoms are less obvious in babies and young children.
Watch Dr Hilary Jones explain the symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia
Order a free symptoms pack
Types & causes
Meningitis is usually caused by bacteria or viruses and occasionally
is due to fungal infections, although almost any microbe can cause it.
can be very unpleasant it is almost never life threatening and most people quickly make a full recovery.
Meningitis and septicaemia caused by bacteria are usually more serious than other forms. There are at least 50 kinds of bacteria that can cause meningitis and septicaemia.
Most cases in the UK and Ireland are caused by meningococcal bacteria.
The main types of bacteria that cause meningitis and septicaemia are:
Haemophilus influenzae b (Hib
Group B Streptococcal (GBS)
Who is at risk?
Anyone can get meningitis or septicaemia, but age is one of the main risk factors.
Babies are at higher risk of bacterial meningitis than any other age group.
Toddlers are also at increased risk of meningitis.
Teenagers and young adults are at risk mainly from meningococcal disease.
But it is important to know that you can get meningitis or septicaemia at any time of your life.
Find out more about who is at risk from meningitis and septicaemia
There are vaccines that provide excellent protection against some forms of meningitis and septicaemia,
BUT they can't prevent all strains of these diseases.
There is no single vaccine that can prevent all forms of meningitis and septicaemia. There is no vaccine against Group B meningococcal bacteria the cause of most bacterial cases in the UK and Ireland.
The MenC vaccine protects against Group C meningococcal meningitis and
septicaemia and is routinely offered to babies in the UK and Ireland.
There are currently two pneumococcal vaccines - a 23-type 'polysaccharide' vaccine for people over the age of two and a newer 7-type 'conjugate' vaccine for children aged two months to five
A Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine was introduced in the UK and Ireland in 1992, and provides long-lasting immunity. Since its introduction, the
incidence of disease cause by Hib has been reduced by over 90% in the UK and Ireland.
There are vaccines against other strains of meningitis and septicaemia available for travel.
Most people who get meningitis and septicaemia survive, often
without any after effects, but sometimes these diseases cause a range
of disabilities and problems that can alter people's lives.
We estimate that every day in the UK and Ireland two people will be left with life-altering after effects as severe as brain damage, deafness and multiple amputations.
After effects may be temporary or permanent, physical or emotional.
Find out more about after effects and how the Foundation can help you cope
MRF produces resources for health professionals and the public on how to diagnose and treat meningitis and septicaemia.
Health professionals can download information directly from this site or order on-line.
For the public we offer a range of information about meningitis and septicaemia and their symptoms. Much of our symptoms information is age specific. Additionally we offer publications for those coping with the effects of meningitis and septicaemia.
All materials are available to order through our on-line resource centre.
Information on the symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia and vaccination is available in twenty-two languages.