Focusing attention on viral meningitis

4th May 2023

Many of you will have seen the recent story in the news of Peter Crouch and Abbey Clancy’s 12-year-old daughter Sophia being rushed to hospital after contracting viral meningitis while on holiday in Portugal

Focusing attention on viral meningitis

We’ve sent our best wishes to the family and Sophia for her continued recovery from the disease.

Their story serves as a timely reminder that meningitis can affect anyone at any time, as we hold our annual Viral Meningitis Week, during which we focus attention on the viral form of the disease.

Speaking on The Therapy Crouch podcast, Abbey said: "We got to Portugal and Sophia was in hospital with meningitis, which was just the scariest thing on earth. 

"Being in a foreign hospital, language barriers, the words like meningitis being thrown around, lumbar punctures, brain scans. It was horrific and scary.”

Immediate action

Abbey and Peter took immediate action when Sophia became unwell. This is exactly the right step to take when you’re concerned about meningitis. Being aware of the signs and symptoms of the disease and taking swift action can make all the difference.

This Viral Meningitis Week we’re looking to raise awareness of this form of the disease and calling for those who have suffered from it to be #VocalAboutViral. 

Our wonderful Celebrity Ambassador Lisa Snowdon has kindly shared her viral meningitis story to focus attention on the disease. Read her experience.

During the week we want to raise awareness to inform the public, health professionals and employers about the true impact of viral meningitis and the long-term problems it can bring.

Most cases in warmer months

Expert opinion suggests up to 6,000 people each year across the UK suffer from viral meningitis, an infection that causes inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and the spinal cord. The majority of cases happen during the warmer months.

Symptoms of viral meningitis can include a severe headache, a dislike of bright lights, neck stiffness, nausea, vomiting and confusion. The disease can affect anyone of any age. 

We urge anyone concerned about viral meningitis to seek medical help.

Viral meningitis cannot be treated with antibiotics. Rehydration, painkillers and plenty of rest are the best remedy. Most people will make a full recovery. However, for some recovery can be slow and the after-effects long lasting.Financial support


After-effects can include exhaustion, headaches, memory loss, depression, anxiety and hearing difficulties. Many sufferers need to take long periods off education or work, and struggle with the day-to-day tasks that most people take for granted.

These after-effects can be debilitating and just as likely to affect people’s day-to-day activities as those from bacterial meningitis, turning their emotional and economic lives upside down and affecting their ability to learn, play and work.

Our chief executive Dr Tom Nutt said: “It’s vital that everybody understands that viral meningitis can be serious and that those who experience it are not afraid to speak out about it and seek the support they need.

Help raise awareness

“For our Viral Meningitis Week we’re calling on everyone to be #VocalAboutViral – and help raise awareness by talking about the disease.”

If you or someone close to you has had viral meningitis we’d like to hear your story. You can tell us about it.

We also have a range of free services to support individuals and their families after viral meningitis, including our Rebuilding Futures Fund.

There is information and fact sheets about viral meningitis on our website. Read more about the symptoms and after-effects and download the guides.

If you have been affected by viral meningitis, please contact our Helpline on 0808 80 10 388 or email Do not suffer from viral meningitis alone.

If you’re concerned that someone may have meningitis, seek urgent medical help by calling your GP or NHS 111, and in an emergency dial 999. Someone with meningitis can get worse very quickly. 

Find out more about the signs and symptoms of meningitis.