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Meningitis Warning

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10:26am 26th August 2014

A warning about meningitis goes out to Cornwall as teenagers get ready to go back to school.

More than four thousand people in the Duchy have had the disease.

Students and children are most at risk - and are urged to know the signs and get the vaccine.

Sue Davey's from Meningitis Now: "Often the early symptoms include fever, headache, vomiting, could be muscle pain, could be fever with cold hands and feet and the most important thing for people to remember is they can deteriorate very rapidly.

"Look out for your friends, because sometimes, particularly if you look at universities, a student's been out on an evening and they can feel like they've got a hangover but actually it could be meningitis so they have to be vigilant."

In older children, teenagers and adults, the symptoms of meningitis can include:

    a fever, with cold hands and feet
    drowsiness and difficulty waking up
    confusion and irritability
    severe muscle pain
    pale, blotchy skin, and a distinctive rash (although not everyone will have this)   
    a severe headache
    stiff neck
    sensitivity to light (photophobia)
    convulsion or seizures

These symptoms can appear in any order, and not everyone will get all of them.

Don't wait for a rash to develop. Seek immediate medical help if someone is unwell and displays the symptoms of meningitis.

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

Again the above symptoms can appear in any order, and some may not appear at all.

Don't wait for a rash to develop. If your child is unwell and getting worse, seek medical help immediately.

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.

10:26am 26th August 2014

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