The meninges are the connective tissue membranes that line the skull and vertebral canal, enclosing and protecting the brain and spinal cord.
Meningitis occurs when this tissue becomes inflamed as a result of a viral or bacterial infection.
Symptoms include intense headache, fever, and loss of appetite and intolerance to light and sound. One important symptom, which aids recognition, is muscle rigidity, especially involving the extensor muscles of the neck making the sufferer appear to be arching their back.
In bacterial meningitis involving the meningococcal bacteria, a purple rash may appear on the skin, this is a sign that the infection has spread to the blood stream (Septicaemia). This is extremely dangerous as the bodies' ability to clot is being destroyed.
In severe cases convulsions, vomiting and delirium can lead to death. It is imperative that medical attention is sought urgently. Meningitis is epidemic in some foreign countries and it is advisable to seek advice as to the possibility of immunization to protect you should you be considering traveling to one of these countries.
Further information in the UK can be obtained from the National Meningitis Trust Tel; 01453 768000 or their 24hour help line on 0845 538118.
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