Early symptoms can include:
- Muscle pain
- Stomach cramps
- Fever with cold hands and feet
DO NOT wait for a rash. If a child is ill and getting worse, get medical help immediately.
A child with meningitis or septicaemia can get a lot worse very quickly. Keep checking them.
Trust your instincts – Get medical help immediately.
Why are teenagers and young people at risk
Meningococcal bacteria are the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in the UK. One in four 15-19 year olds carry the bacteria in the back of their throats, compared to one in ten of the UK population, which puts them at greater risk.
The six main groups of meningococcal bacteria that commonly cause disease are groups A, B, C, W, X and Y
You can carry the bacteria without becoming unwell (in most cases it will boost your natural immunity)
Meningococcal bacteria are passed from person to person by coughing, sneezing and intimate kissing. Increased social interaction in this age group means the bacteria can be passed on more easily
Meningococcal group W (MenW) has historically been rare in the UK, but in 2009, cases began to increase. A particularly aggressive strain of MenW was causing disease in all age groups but there was a significant increase in university students. The MenACWY vaccine was introduced across the UK in August 2015 in response to the rise in MenW cases. Cases have now fallen due to the success of this vaccine.
Why are first year university students at risk
Students can be more vulnerable to meningitis because of living in more 'cramped' housing or halls of residence. In many cases, young people come together from all over the world to live, study and socialise together. They will be exposed to bacteria and viruses their bodies have not met before. This is why so many new students get ‘freshers' flu’
As early symptoms of meningitis can be similar to common illnesses such as flu or even a hangover, it’s easy to mistake meningitis for something else
When students go off to university, it is often the first time they are living away from their parents and, more often than not, their own health and well-being is not a priority. With no parents to keep an eye on them, meningitis can be missed
Download more information about meningitis in teenagers and young people.
Find out more about meningitis, as well as the symptoms in this short video: