Meningitis and septicaemia – what are the signs?

Meningitis and septicemia – just the words send shivers of fear through me.

I, like so many other parents, am petrified of Meningitis and any time one of my boys has a temperature and is feeling poorly I always look for a rash. I even look on the soles of their feet as I have read somewhere that rashes here can be missed. And if I do find a rash of any sort I head straight to the kitchen to get a glass to do the ‘tumbler test’.


bacterial meningitis

Meningitis is the inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord.

Septicaemia is the blood poisoning form of the disease.


There are 2 main types of Meningitis, Bacterical Meningitis and Viral Meninigitis. Septicaemia is usually bacterial.

Viral meningitis can be very unpleasant but it is almost never life threatening and most people make a full recovery.

Bacterial Meningitis and Septicaemia can kill and can be caused by a range of different bacteria.


Some bacteria that cause Meningitis can also cause Septicaemia – Meningitis and Septicaemia often happen together.

The Meningitis Research Foundation has this great table which easily shows the symptoms to look out for in Septicaemia and Meningitis. It’s a great reminder to stick onto the front of your fridge.

Meningitis and septicaemia can kill in hours – know the symptoms

The first symptoms are usually fever, vomiting, headache and feeling unwell. Red ticks show symptoms more specific to meningitis and septicaemia and less common in milder illnesses. Limb pain, pale skin, and cold hands and feet often appear earlier than the rash, neck stiffness, dislike of bright lights and confusion.

Other signs in babies:

signs of meningitis in babies

Signs of Meningitis in Babies

  • Tense or bulging soft spot on their head


  • Refusing to feed


  • Irritable when picked up, with a high pitched or moaning cry


  • A stiff body with jerky movements, or else floppy and lifeless


  • Fever is often absent in babies less than three months of age




People with septicaemia may develop a red or purple rash of tiny ‘pin pricks’ which can develop into purple bruising or blotchy skin.



Glass test

  • Press the side of a clear glass firmly against the skin
  • Spots/rash may fade at first
  • Keep checking
  • Fever with spots/rash that do not fade under pressure is a medical emergency



However, it is important NOT TO WAIT for the rash.

If someone is ill and getting worse, get medical help immediately.

Trust your instincts. You know your loved ones, and your own body, best.


Here at 2mums Ltd, we have found a product that is a must for any parent to have in their medical kit –  the ARC Meningitis rash and fever detector


A must have for any parent, the Meningitis Early Alert Pack contains;

  • A reusable test device to help you identify the rash and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia
  • Reusable forehead thermometer
  • Fever and medication chart to help you monitor your child’s illness
  • Developed by doctors and meningitis experts
  • As seen on BBC Breakfast and ITV’s This Morning


The meningitis rash detector supplied with the pack is based on the principle of the meningitis glass test. It provides parents of babies and young children with a simple device to reliably replicate the traditional test with confidence. The pack also contains a forehead thermometer and a simple chart, developed by a nurse.  This  is invaluable when you need to monitor your child’s fever and to ensure that your child is receiving the correct dose of medicine.

Unlike a glass or tumbler, the rash detector is made from clear, shatter-proof plastic to prevent injury.  It has the key signs and symptoms of meningitis printed directly onto the surface along with an illustration of a typical meningitis rash, making it as easy as possible to identify whether a rash is present or not.

In an independent survey, mums with babies and young children rated the kit with an overall of five out of five for ease of use, quality and value for money.

The Meningitis Early Alert Pack can be purchased from The Health Check Shop for £4.99, 

but we are giving away 10 packs in our competition below.



Win an ARC Meningitis Early Alert Pack


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