Meningitis (bacterial) and menigococcal septicaemia in under 16s: recognition, diagnosis and management

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence


Key priorities for implementation

Symptoms and signs of bacterial meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia

  • Consider bacterial meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia in children and young people who present with the symptoms and signs (see algorithm below)
    • be aware that:
      • some children and young people will present with mostly non-specific symptoms or signs and the conditions may be difficult to distinguish from other less important (viral) infections presenting in this way
      • children and young people with the more specific symptoms and signs are more likely to have bacterial meningitis or meningococcal septicaemia and the symptoms and signs may become more severe and more specific over time
    • recognise shock and manage urgently in secondary care
  • Healthcare professionals should be trained in the recognition and management of meningococcal disease

Management in the pre-hospital setting

  • Primary care healthcare professionals should transfer children and young people with suspected bacterial meningitis or suspected meningococcal septicaemia to secondary care as an emergency by telephoning 999

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