Meningitis outbreak: 7 symptoms every parent need to be aware of 1 year ago

Meningitis outbreak: 7 symptoms every parent need to be aware of

With three fatalities in recent weeks, the HSE are now warning parents (and the public in general) to be vigilant about symptoms of meningitis.

Mums and dads are being urged to check their children's vaccination record, and be on the look-out for symptons such as:

  • Unusual crying
  • Vomiting and refusing feeds
  • Pale and blotchy skin
  • Loss of appetite
  • Staring expression
  • Being very sleepy with a reluctance to wake up
  • Becoming floppy and unresponsive, or stiff with jerky movements

Many, when they hear the words 'meningitis' will be on the lookout for a skin rash (that doesn't fade away when you perform the 'tumbler test' of pressing a glass up againt the irritated area of skin), but according to Dr Suzanne Cotter of the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC) parents should not wait to a rash to appear if they suspect something is wrong with their child, as not everyone will develop the rash.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland this week, Cotter said:

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

Here is what every parent should know according to Meningitis.org:

What are meningitis and septicaemia?

Meningitis is inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord – the meninges. Septicaemia is blood poisoning caused by the same germs and is the more life threatening form of the disease. Septicaemia can occur with or without meningitis.

Things to remember

  • Don't wait for the rash as it doesn't always appear
  • Not everyone gets all of these symptoms
  • Symptoms can appear in any order
  • Septicemia can occur with or without meningitis.
  • Your know your child best; check on them often, trust your instincts and act fast

What should I do if I am worried about someone who is ill?

Trust your instincts. Someone who has meningitis or septicaemia could become seriously ill very quickly. Get medical help immediately if you suspect meningitis or septicaemia - it's a race against time.

Viral meningitis is indicated by more flu-like symptoms such as headaches, fever and generally not feeling well, but it is only possible to distinguish between bacterial and viral meningitis by carrying out clinical tests. It is not possible to tell the difference from the symptoms alone. Therefore, every case of suspected meningitis should be treated as a medical emergency.

Even though people typically associate meningitis with a non-blanching rash that doesn't fade under pressure, Dr Suzanne Cotter of the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC) urged people to not wait for a rash to appear. Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland she said:

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