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Symptoms in young people






Meningitis and septicaemia strike suddenly and kill in hours. Babies and young children are most vulnerable but young people and students are the next most at-risk group. This is partly because as they meet new people and move away from home, they also meet new bacteria.

Septicaemia can occur with or without meningitis. Not everyone gets all the symptoms and they can appear in any order.

We suggest young people and students share awareness and care for one another. Don’t assume an illness is a hangover or a touch of flu. Learn the symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia and if you think a friend or housemate is ill:

Check up on them regularly and if you are worried, trust your instincts and seek medical help fast

The tumbler test

Meningitis and septicaemia Tumbler testIf you are seriously worried about someone who is ill, don’t wait for a rash to appear – get medical help. But if they are already ill and get a new rash or spots, use the Tumbler Test.

Press a clear glass tumbler firmly against the rash. If you can see the marks clearly through the glass seek urgent medical help immediately.


A rash caused by septicaemia

Check the entire body. Look out for tiny red or brown pin-prick marks which can change into larger red or purple blotches and blood blisters.



The septicaemia rash on dark skin

The darker the skin the harder it is to see a septicaemic rash so check lighter areas like the palms of hands and soles of feet or look inside the eyelids and the roof of the mouth.

Remember, a very ill person needs medical help even if there are only a few spots, a rash or no rash at all.

What are meningitis and septicaemia?

Meningitis is inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord – the meninges. Septicaemia is blood poisoning caused by the same germs and is the more life threatening form of the disease.

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Related current research projects

  • We currently fund 16 research projects throughout the world
  • Since we were founded in 1989, we have awarded 147 research grants, leading to many advances in the prevention, detection and treatment of meningitis and septicaemia.
  • The total value of our investment in vital scientific research is over £18.6 million (€28.4 million) ($25.2 million).