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Tumbler test for meningitis rash - the red spots do not disappear when a glass is pressed on them


What are Meningitis & Meningococcal Septicaemia?
Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the linings surrounding the brain. It can be caused by bacteria and viruses. Septicaemia is blood poisoning caused by bacteria entering the bloodstream and multiplying uncontrollably.

Viral meningitis is more common than bacterial meningitis. It is rarely life-threatening, but it can make people very weak. Viral meningitis can be caused by many different viruses. Some are spread by people coughing and sneezing, or through poor hygiene or sewage-polluted water.

Bacterial meningitis/meningococcal septicaemia is less common, but it is very serious and needs urgent treatment with antibiotics. It is mainly caused by the meningococcal bacteria, but can also be caused by the pneumococcal, Hib and TB bacteria amongst others. E.coli and group B streptococcal bacteria can also causemeningitis in new born babies.

The meningococcus has three main groups, A, B and C. Group A rarely causes disease in the UK. Of all the cases in the UK, Group B accounts for 60-70%, Group C accounts for 30-40% and is the main cause of clusters or outbreaks of the disease. The introduction of the new C vaccine will significantly reduce its incidence in the UK

How do you get Bacterial Meningitis/Meningococcal Septicaemia?
The bacteria are very common and live naturally in the back of the nose and throat. They normally spread between people in close and prolonged contact by coughing, sneezing and intimate kissing. They do not live for very long outside the body, so can’t be picked up from water supplies,
swimming pools or buildings.

A new vaccine for Group C meningococcal disease became available last year. It will give long-term protection against this strain. There is also a vaccine against meningococcal groups A and C, which can be given to people travelling to areas of the world where this strain occurs. There is no vaccine against meningococcal group B, which is still the most common group causing meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia.

Meningitis Research Foundation


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