Every SECOND counts. If you suspect meningitis, GET MEDICAL HELP IMMEDIATELY. Call or see your doctor / Call an ambulance / Get to a hospital.

Septicaemia Symptoms

Septicaemia Symptoms

Septicaemia Symptoms - Infants & Children

Bacteria or germs which cause meningitis can also cause septicaemia (blood poisoning) – Learn the symptoms, as septicaemia can kill in 24 hours.  Some people may develop meningitis or septicaemia or both.

Symptoms can occur in any order, and may not all be present:

  • Fever (possibly with cold hands and feet)

  • Dislike of being handled or fretful

  • Vomiting or refusing feeds

  • Child is difficult to wake or lethargic

  • Breathing problems or rapid breathing

  • Diarrhoea

  • Pale blotchy complexion

  • Rash (*)

  • Floppy or stiff body or jerking movements

  • Blank staring expression

  • High pitched moaning cry or whimpering

Septicaemia Symptoms - Older Children & Adults

Symptoms can occur in any order, and may not all be present:

  • Fever (possibly with cold hands and feet)

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Behaviour changes (ie. irritable or restless)

  • Drowsiness/ reduced consciousness/ lethargy (however many people may be alert until late in the development of the disease)

  • Pain in legs and arms

  • Pain in abdomen or chest

  • Unusual skin colour or pale complexion

  • Breathing problems or rapid breathing

  • Sore muscles or joints

  • Confusion

  • Chills

  • Diarrhoea

  • Rash (*)

(*)  The rash can start anywhere on the body and can vary in appearance.  In some cases it may start as a pink rash, or a pink, purple or red spot. It may also appear as pink, red, purple or brownish pin-prick spots which may develop into a bruise like rash.  The rash is due to septicaemia (blood poisoning) and is caused by bleeding into the skin. The rash should be taken seriously. Seek urgent medical attention.

If you believe someone is seriously ill, do not wait for a rash to appear as it may not appear in all cases.  Seek urgent medical attention.

Trust your instincts - If concerned, see a doctor immediately! 

Don’t hesitate to return to the doctor or hospital if the person deteriorates or you are still concerned.

Disclaimer - The Meningitis Foundation Aotearoa New Zealand promotes the prevention, control and awareness of meningitis. It is not a professional medical authority. The text on this website provides general information about meningitis and septicaemia, not medical advice. It is not intended for use in the diagnosis or treatment of these diseases. Please consult your doctor to discuss the information or if you are concerned someone may be ill.

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