Paediatric 12 Hour First Aid Level 3 (VTQ) - Online Blended Part 1

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Meningitis: Understanding the Causes and Symptoms


Meningitis is an infection characterized by inflammation of the meninges, the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It can be caused by viruses or bacteria and requires prompt medical attention due to its potentially life-threatening nature.

Types of Meningitis

  • Viral Meningitis: More common and less severe, transmitted through respiratory secretions. Symptoms include headache, fever, and drowsiness.
  • Bacterial Meningitis: Caused by bacteria found in the nose and throat, can lead to blood poisoning (septicaemia) and requires immediate antibiotic treatment.


Symptoms vary by age group:

  • Children and Adults: High fever, loss of appetite, stiff neck, joint pain, seizures, disorientation.
  • Infants and Toddlers: High fever, neck retraction, arching back, lethargy, convulsions, difficulty waking up, tense fontanelle.

Glass Test

The rash associated with meningitis may not be the first sign and does not appear in all cases. To perform the glass test:

  • Press a clear glass firmly against the skin.
  • If spots do not fade when the glass is rolled over, it may indicate meningitis.
  • Seek medical assistance immediately if in doubt, regardless of the presence of a rash.

Emergency Response

If meningitis is suspected:

  • Ensure the child is comfortable and cool.
  • Call emergency services, describing symptoms and suspicion of meningitis.
  • Monitor and record vital signs.


Meningitis is a serious condition that requires prompt medical attention. Understanding its symptoms, including the potential presence of a rash, can help in timely diagnosis and treatment. For more information, visit the Meningitis Now website.