Fortunately Ruaridh went on to make a good recovery. Joanne, from Ardrossan in Ayrshire, tells their story here.
“My son Ruaridh is an on-the-go little boy and, looking back now, I can’t believe how quickly he took unwell.
“That day he woke up and did his usual running about with his brother Finlay. That afternoon he vomited out of the blue and I thought maybe he had eaten too much as we had been at a party.
“On the road home he slept, which wasn’t usual. He would sleep for an hour or so but that day he slept for five. I tried to wake him several time but he just kept going back to sleep.
Thought he had a cold
“I checked his temperature and it was 38.5, so I gave him paracetamol and he seemed to settle. I just thought he had the cold.
“That night he was very restless and while in bed with myself and my husband he had a convulsion. That’s when I noticed this red rash – it wasn’t like the ones you see on meningitis campaigns; it was like a sweat rash.
“I phoned NHS 24 and they sent out a nurse practitioner. She checked him over and thought it was viral. She told me to keep giving him paracetamol every four hours and fluids. I tried throughout the night to give him water or juice but he wouldn’t take it. Around 4 in the morning he settled and we went to sleep.
Noticed a bruise
“When I woke up for work in the morning he was still sleeping, so I left him with his dad with a note to Chris to check his temperature and give him paracetamol if it was high. That was when I noticed a bruise on his leg. At that time I honestly thought it was a bruise and I left for work.
“Whilst at work my husband sent me a photo of the bruise that I had seen earlier and said it was spreading up his leg. I am a theatre nurse and I showed it to an anaesthetist I was working with. I knew by the look on his face that it was meningitis. He told me to get him to A&E asap.
“The drive from my house to the hospital is 15 minutes but that day it felt like an eternity. I was riddled with guilt that I had seen that in the morning and thought it was a bruise.
Clingy but responsive
“When we got into A&E they took us straight away. Ruaridh was clingy but responsive and the doctor came in to check over him. He wasn’t sure whether it was just a virus or meningitis, but he kept feeling his rash/bruise like thing on his legs, which by now had spread to his buttocks.
“The doctor spoke to his consultant and they decided to put him on the meningitis protocol. I was told by the paediatric doctor that the antibiotics they gave in A&E save Ruaridh’s life and limbs.
“We went to the ward and spent four days in isolation. Two days in it was confirmed as meningitis with septicaemia.
Different from other rashes
“Even though he had all this going on the doctors were so surprised at how well he was that they would bring trainee doctors in to show them what to look for and how the rash was different from other rashes. Ruaridh was loving all the attention.
“He was on antibiotics for one week after he got discharged and we went up to hospital every day to get his antibiotics.
“To me this was the scariest thing I have been through as a mother. But I know how lucky I am as my son has no after-effects from having this horrible life-changing disease.”