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Who's at risk from meningitis?

Meningitis can affect anyone of any age at any time, however there are at risk groups.

  • Babies, toddlers and young children under five are the most at risk group for meningitis, with over 50% of all cases occurring in this age group.
  • College students are second most at risk from meningitis. One in four 15 – 19 year olds carry these bacteria in the back of their throats, compared to one in ten of the UK population.
  • Adults are also at risk. Meningitis can strike at any time, regardless of health, gender, age, race or class. People over 55 are at risk of meningitis as our immune systems weaken as we get older.

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Facts you need to know

  • Meningitis can strike quickly and without warning, so urgent medical attention is essential.
  • Meningitis vaccines are the only way to prevent meningitis and, until we have vaccines to prevent all types, you need to know the signs and symptoms to look out for and the action to take.
  • Most people will make a good recovery, but some will suffer lifelong after-effects and complications.

Got a question about meningitis?

You can give one of our specially trained nurses a call on our freephone helpline*, available 24-hours a day 0808 80 10 388, or you can email Meningitis Now and we will come back to you as soon as we can. We are open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

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Meningitis symptoms

Glass test

What is meningitis



Meningitis Now is the new name for Meningitis UK and the Meningitis Trust. Our goals remain the same – saving lives and rebuilding futures.

Find out more

Spot the signs

More than 5.3 million adults in the UK can't name a single meningitis sign or symptom. Make sure you're not one of them.

Learn all the signs and symptoms.


You can now keep the Meningitis Now signs and symptoms card on your iPhone. Life-saving information at your fingertips

See the meningitis app

The Information Standard