Meningitis is a serious, sometimes fatal infection causing inflammation of the membranes that protect the brain and spinal cord (meninges). Viral infections, which commonly resolve without treatment, are the most common causes of meningitis. Bacterial infections are more serious and can result in death, brain damage, or limb loss even if treated. Fungi, systemic diseases, and toxins can also cause meningitis.

Meningitis and septicaemia affect about 3,000 people every year in the UK and Republic of Ireland. This works out at just over 8 every day, but there are more cases in winter than in summer. Anyone can get the diseases, but babies, children and young adults are most at risk.
One in ten people who get meningitis and septicaemia dies and many more are left with disabilities. No other disease kills faster; a healthy person could die in hours.
Vaccines offer excellent protection, but they are not yet available for all forms. So it's vital to know the symptoms and what to do if you suspect someone has meningitis or septicaemia.

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