A – Z of Illnesses & Conditions

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Meningitis: Meningitis is an infection of the membranes surrounding your brain and spinal cord. This infection causes these membranes (the meninges) to become inflamed, which in some cases can damage the nerves and brain. Anyone can get meningitis, but babies and young children under five years of age are most at risk. A baby or young child with meningitis may:
  •    have a high fever, with cold hands and feet
  •     vomit and refuse to feed 
  •     feel agitated and not want to be picked up
  •     become drowsy, floppy and unresponsive
  •     grunt or breathe rapidly
  •     have an unusual high-pitched or moaning cry
  •     have pale, blotchy skin, and a red rash that doesn't fade when a glass is rolled over it
  •     have a tense, bulging soft spot on their head (fontanelle)
  •     have a stiff neck and dislike bright lights
  •     have convulsions or seizures
  •     have an obstinate constipation
The above symptoms can appear in any order, and some may not appear at all. Most cases of meningitis are caused by a viral infection, but bacterial and fungal infections also can lead to meningitis. Meningitis can resolve on its own in a couple of weeks — or it can be a life threatening emergency.

The glass test: If you press the side of a clear glass firmly against the skin and the rash doesn't fade, it's a sign of meningococcal septicaemia. A person with septicaemia may have a rash of tiny "pin pricks" that later develops into purple bruising. A fever with a rash that doesn't fade under pressure is a medical emergency, and you should seek immediate medical help.

If you suspect that your child or someone in your family has meningitis, Don't wait for a rash to develop, seek professional medical attention right away,  it could be dangerous to delay treatment.  Early treatment can prevent serious complications.

Meningitis vaccination
There are a number of vaccines that can prevent many types of viral and bacterial meningitis. The vaccines available include:
  •     the MMR vaccine (which protects against measles, mumps and rubella) 
  •     the meningitis C vaccine
  •     the 5-in-1 vaccine – which provides protection against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis), polio and Hib   (Haemophilus influenzae type b)
  •     the pneumococcal vaccine
Children should receive these vaccines as part of the NHS vaccination schedule. Speak to your doctor if you're not sure whether your vaccinations are up-to-date. 

Meningitis B?

Meningitis is the inflammation of the membranes that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord.  Meningococcal refers to a type of bacteria that can cause meningitis. There are different groups of meningococcal bacteria, for example meningococcal group B which is commonly abbreviated to MenB (other groups include MenA, MenC, MenW and MenY). 
What is the MenB vaccine?
The MenB vaccine helps to protect against disease cause by meningococcal group B (MenB) bacteria. MenB is the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in the UK. The vaccine used in the NHS routine immunisation schedule is called Bexsero and made by the pharmaceutical company GSK.

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