Information for the public
Bacterial meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia
Bacterial meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia are not very common, but when they happen, they can be very serious and can quickly lead to complications such as brain damage, skin damage and amputations, and even death. However, most children and young people make a full recovery if they are treated early.
Bacterial meningitis occurs when bacteria infect the lining of the brain (the meninges) and the spinal cord. 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.
For the remainder of this information, bacterial meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia will be referred to as meningitis and septicaemia respectively.