Logo for Signhealth, the deaf charity

Search the site

Meningitis and septicaemia often happen together; signs and symptoms can appear suddenly and become life-threatening very quickly.

Knowing all the symptoms, trusting your instincts and getting medical help immediately can save lives.

Symptoms can appear in any order, some may not appear at all.

Early symptoms can include:

Fever, headache, vomiting, muscle pain and fever with cold hands and feet.

Someone with meningitis or speticaemia can get a lot worse very quickly. Keep checking them.

If you are concerned it could be meningitis or septicaemia, you should contact health services. If you believe it is an emergency, contact 999. Find instructions here on ways to contact these services.

Early diagnosis can be difficult. If you have had advice and are still concerned, get medical help again.

Septicaemia and the glass test

Some bacteria can cause meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning). People with septicaemia may develop a rash of tiny red ‘pin pricks’ which can develop into purple bruising. This rash does not fade under pressure. Do the 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.

Do not wait for a rash. If someone is ill and getting worse, get medical help immediately.

On dark skin, the spots/rash can be more difficult to see. Do not wait for a rash. Be aware of all the signs and symptoms.