This guideline covers recognising, diagnosing and managing bacterial meningitis and meningococcal disease in babies, children, young people and adults. It aims to reduce death and disability by helping healthcare professionals recognise meningitis and treat it quickly and effectively.

For recommendations on meningitis in babies up to and including 28 days corrected gestational age, see the NICE guideline on neonatal infection.

This guideline does not cover people with immunodeficiency, confirmed viral, tuberculous or fungal meningitis, confirmed viral encephalitis, brain tumours, hydrocephalus, intracranial shunts, previous neurosurgical procedures, or known cranial or spinal anomalies that increase the risk of bacterial meningitis.


This guideline includes recommendations on:

Who is it for?

  • Healthcare professionals
  • Commissioners and providers
  • People with bacterial meningitis or meningococcal disease, their families and carers

Guideline development process

How we develop NICE guidelines

This guideline updates and replaces NICE guideline CG102 (published June 2010).

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 and practitioners are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or the people using their service. It is not mandatory to apply the recommendations, and the guideline does not override the responsibility to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual, in consultation with them and their families and carers or guardian.

All problems (adverse events) related to a medicine or medical device used for treatment or in a procedure should be reported to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency using the Yellow Card Scheme.

Local commissioners and providers of healthcare have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual professionals and people using services 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 complying with those duties.

Commissioners and providers have a responsibility to promote an environmentally sustainable health and care system and should assess and reduce the environmental impact of implementing NICE recommendations wherever possible.