Signs and symptoms
Meningitis and Septicaemia (blood poisoning) are not always easy to recognize, and symptoms can appear in any order. Some may not appear at all. In the early stages, the signs and symptoms can be similar to many other more common illnesses, for example flu.
Trust your instincts. If you suspect meningitis or septicaemia, get medical help immediately.
Early symptoms can include fever, headache, nausea (feeling sick), vomiting (being sick), and muscle pain, with cold hands and feet.
A rash that does not fade under pressure (see ‘The Glass Test’) is a sign of meningococcal septicaemia. This rash may begin as a few small spots anywhere on the body and can spread quickly to look like fresh bruises.
The spots or rash are caused by blood leaking into the tissues under the skin. They are more difficult to see on darker skin, so look on paler areas of the skin and under the eyelids. The spots or rash may fade at first, so keep checking.