Meningitis B

Meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial infection affecting the brain and spinal cord. There are different groups of meningitis - A, C, W, Y and B are the most common. The UK childhood vaccination schedule includes vaccinations against these five groups, as infants and young people are more vulnerable. Most meningitis infections in the UK are caused by the B and C groups.

Symptoms

Sudden fever, intense headache, nausea, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights. A non-blanching rash appears as the infection worsens.

How do you catch Meningitis B?

Meningitis is spread by coughs, sneezes or contact with someone who has the infection. It usually occurs in epidemics and can affect any age group. It can spread quickly in large crowds or in communal living areas (e.g. universities).

Incubation period

2 – 10 days

Diagnosis

confirmed by testing blood or spinal fluid for bacteria.

Prevention

Washing hands regularly, especially before eating; cover the mouth when coughing or sneezing; avoid sharing drinks/food/toothbrushes and other items used orally with anyone else. Ensure vaccinations are up to date. Vaccines offered against meningitis by MASTA are Men B and Men ACWY.

Treatment

Bacterial meningitis requires urgent treatment (antibiotics and fluids) in hospital. Without early treatment it can be fatal within hours.