Meningitis: Signs and symptoms


Meningitis is comparatively rare but can be very serious if not treated quickly.

It is important to be aware of the symptoms and be prepared to take urgent action whenever it is suspected, as it can develop suddenly and progress rapidly.

Early symptoms include:

  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • diarrhoea and vomiting
  • a headache
  • muscle pain
  • cold hands and feet
  • 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)

These symptoms can appear in any order and some may not appear. It is important not to wait for a rash to develop before seeking medical attention. Make sure you also look out for friends, particularly if they go to their room unwell.

All first year students receive a small wallet card with this information at the start of the academic year. If you need a replacement, please ask at your Hall or at Student Health, or alternatively go to Meningitis Now.


Student Health Services are encouraging all students who have not already been vaccinated against meningitis and mumps, measles and rubella to contact their GP and arrange to receive a vaccine.

Meningitis vaccination

A free Meningitis ACWY Vaccination / Meningitis Booster is available for any unprotected individual under 25 years of age.

Vaccinations are available via your GP and at Brownlow Health.

MMR vaccination

You can avoid mumps, measles and rubella by avoiding close personal contact with a person with these illnesses and via immunisation.

You need to complete the course of two doses of the vaccine and this may be given at any age.

It is strongly advised that students who have not previously had TWO doses of the MMR vaccine contact their GP as soon as possible to arrange to have this free vaccination.

Mumps and measles are both highly infectious illnesses caused by viruses that easily spread by close contact with the nose and throat secretions of the infected person. For example, through coughing and sneezing, and also by direct contact with articles that have been contaminated, such as tissues.

As the MMR is a live vaccine, if you have a weakened immune system your GP may recommend you do not receive it. If this affects you, please discuss with your nurse or doctor.