Review decision: 

We checked this guideline and decided that it should not be updated at this time. For details, see the update decision and the process for deciding if an update is needed. We have also removed reference to throat swabs from recommendation 1.3.14, to bring it into line with Public Health England’s Guidance for public health management of meningococcal disease in the UK.

Next review date: 2018

This guideline offers best practice advice on the care of children and young people younger than 16 years with bacterial meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia.

  • Bacterial meningitis is an infection of the surface of the brain (meninges) by bacteria that have usually travelled there from mucosal surfaces via the bloodstream. Meningococcal septicaemia – or blood poisoning – occurs when the bacteria in the blood multiply uncontrollably.
  • Meningococcal disease can appear as meningococcal meningitis or meningococcal septicaemia, or a combination of both.

This guideline was previously called bacterial meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia: Management of bacterial meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia in children and young people younger than 16 years in primary and secondary care.

Your responsibility

The recommendations in this guideline represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or service users. The application of the recommendations in this guideline is not mandatory and the guideline does not override the responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or their carer or guardian.

Local commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual health professionals and their patients or service users wish to use it. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this guideline should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.

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