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GPs given advice on how to spot meningitis

28th February 2011

A study has recommended that doctors know how to pinpoint "red flag" symptoms for meningitis in children.

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The research, which was published in the British Journal of General Practice, said stiff necks, light sensitivity, confusion and leg pain were all signs of the disease.

However, they said a pale complexion, headache and cold hands or feet were not "reliable" symptoms of meningitis.

The study examined 1,212 cases and said the classic rash only appeared in the later stages of the disease.

Around one in 10 people who contract meningitis will die from it.

It can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection and inflames the membranes surrounding the spinal cord and brain.

The researchers said half of the 1,212 cases were not diagnosed correctly and this could be because GPs were looking for the rash.

Sue Davie, chief executive of the Meningitis Trust, said: "Anything that helps early diagnosis is a good thing."

However, she warned that the study's advice was aimed at GPs and said parents should not ignore other symptoms: "I'm always cautious about homing in on one or two symptoms as parents need to be vigilant against them all. Everyone gets hung up on the rash, a third of people said they wouldn't take action without a rash and that can be deadly."

 

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