What is meningitis?
Meningitis is inflammation of the membranes that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. There are many different causes of meningitis in England but in a lot of cases the cause is bacteria or a virus. You can have bacterial or viral meningitis, or a rarer type like chemical or fungal meningitis.
What are the signs and symptoms of meningitis?
Meningitis and septicaemia often happen together. Symptoms can occur in any order. Be aware of all the signs and symptoms.
Common signs and symptoms of meningitis include the following:
- a fever, often with spots/rash that do not fade under pressure
- feeling and being sick
- irritability and a lack of energy
- a headache
- aching muscles and joints
- breathing quickly
- cold hands and feet
- a stiff neck
- a dislike of bright lights
- fits (seizures)
Babies may also:
- refuse feeds
- be agitated and not want to be picked up
- have a bulging soft spot on their head (fontanelle)
- be floppy or unresponsive
- have an unusual high-pitched cry
- have a stiff body
For more information and a printable signs and symptoms card, click here.
What treatment is there for meningitis?
There are vaccines for some types of meningitis and these are given routinely to young children to protect them from a young age. Sadly there is not a vaccine for all types of meningitis.
Treatment once you have meningitis can be different depending on whether you are an adult or a child.
Bacterial meningitis is treated with antibiotics. There is no specific treatment for viral meningitis, though someone might receive antibiotics as a precaution whilst doctors try to establish the type of meningitis.
What are the problems caused by meningitis?
Meningitis (and septicaemia – blood poisoning) can be fatal in some cases. The infection can progress very quickly and this is why it is so important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of meningitis.
If the meningitis infection has crossed from the blood into the brain, or caused swelling of the brain, then people can develop a brain injury. This in itself is a complex diagnosis and the extent of the brain injury may not be obvious. It can present in a number of different ways, from emotional and behavioural issues to problems with motor functions and processing information.
Sadly, hearing loss is quite common following meningitis. It is the most common complication after meningitis and can range from slight hearing loss to profound deafness.
In some cases, meningitis can result in damage to the nerve responsible for sight, resulting in partial loss of vision or blindness.
Although viral meningitis is not considered as dangerous as bacterial meningitis, it can still have life long effects. It can result in headaches, exhaustion and memory loss.
When the meningococcal bacterial invades the body they can multiply in the blood. This releases toxins or poisons and causes septicaemia. The after effects of septicaemia can be devastating. Septicaemia causes damage to the blood vessels, and reduces the flow of oxygen around the body, especially to the major organs. This can result in skin damage, bone growth problems, organ failure and in the most severe of cases, limb loss.
There can be no doubt that no matter how mild the infection and how quickly a diagnosis is reached, meningitis can have a profound effect on anyone who experiences it.
Why should I make a claim for meningitis negligence?
As you will have read above, the result of meningitis can be very serious and affect the rest of an individual’s life. The needs of someone who has suffered from meningitis can be extensive. It is also important to consider the impact upon the wider family. People with a brain injury, no matter how mild, will need continuous support and care, and access to aids and equipment to meet their needs.
A medical negligence claim can help the individual and their family access the support they need. If someone has experienced limb loss, we can help secure funds for appropriate prosthesis and rehabilitation therapy that someone will need to remain or regain a degree of independence that might otherwise be lost.
Why should I choose Boyes Turner?
Boyes Turner has considerable experience in cases involving a delay in diagnosis or treatment or meningitis. We also work alongside Meningitis Now to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of meningitis, and awareness about the vaccines available, especially to young adults who are attending university.
Sadly we have seen first hand how serious the after effects of the infection can be, and we have the expertise to guide you through the legal process, to secure compensation to help prepare someone for the future.
How will I fund my claim?
Legal Aid is only available to very young children who suffers a significant injury in the very early months of life. Meningitis does sometimes occur in very young babies, and so this is an option to explore.
For those not eligible for Legal Aid we offer a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) or "No win, no fee". With this funding you are assured there will be no cost to you at all if your claim does not succeed.
What shall I do next?
Get in touch for a free, no obligation discussion on the number below, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or submit an enquiry using our form.