Meningitis describes an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. This serious condition can be life-threatening if not treated quickly. One of the warning signs can be a blotchy rash. This skin sign, which seemed “small” at first, was the first red flag to ring alarm bells for a mum, who is now urging other parents to be vigilant.
The mum is warning other parents after her newborn was struck down by a small rash which turned out to be meningitis.
Worryingly, up to one in every 10 cases of bacterial meningitis is estimated to be fatal, according to the NHS.
The new mum explained that the small rash appeared innocent until it didn’t turn white while rolled over.
She had decided to take the toddler to a hospital, where she discovered the rash was triggered by meningitis.
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If left untreated, meningitis can cause life-threatening blood poisoning and result in permanent damage to the brain or nerves.
Australian parenting group Tiny Hearts Education shared the mum’s story on Instagram, highlighting what to look out for and spreading awareness among parents.
They encouraged parents to roll a clear glass over the rash in order to identify if it’s serious.
The group of paramedics said: “If the rash turns white that means it blanches. A non-blanching rash doesn’t turn white when pressed.
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“If the rash is non-blanching it means there is bleeding beneath the skin and there are tests that should be done to rule out anything serious causing this.”
According to the NHS, meningitis rash usually starts as small, red pinpricks before spreading quickly and turning into red or purple blotches.
The health service states: “The rash can be harder to see on brown or black skin.
“Check paler areas, such as the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, roof of the mouth, tummy, whites of the eyes or the inside of the eyelids.”
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Despite the rash being one of the tell-tale signs, it doesn’t always develop. This makes awareness of other symptoms front and centre.
The main symptoms of meningitis can develop suddenly and include:
- High temperature (fever) over 37.5C (99.5F)
- Being sick
- A headache
- A blotchy rash that doesn’t fade when a glass is rolled over it (this won’t always develop)
- A stiff neck
- A dislike of bright lights
- Drowsiness or unresponsiveness
- Seizures (fits).
The NHS recommends getting medical advice “as soon as possible” if you or your child suffer from these symptoms.
The Australian parenting group added that meningitis is so dangerous because the infected blood can leak out under the skin unknowingly.
While most people who develop the condition recover within ten days, it can be deadly in some cases.
According to the latest figures from the UK Health Security Agency, cases of Invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) have increased from just 80 in the period between 2020 and 2021 to 205 cases in the 12 months from July 2021 to June 2022.
The statistics also show that 179 of these cases were caused by MenB (meningococcal group B).
Furthermore, the majority of these cases comprised of adolescents and young adults aged between 15 and 24 years old.
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