What is the typical presentation of meningococcal septicaemia?

The patient presents with the signs of septicaemia. However, a rash also develops. This starts as small red spots on the skin and conjunctivae which rapidly become purpuric (larger pink or purple spots). The spots do not blanch when pressed. The rash becomes very dark and may become necrotic (ulcerate). Gangrene of the skin may occur. Without early treatment the mortality is high. It is very important to look for a rash in all children who are thought to have septicaemia.

Always look carefully for a rash if a child has a diagnosis of possible septicaemia.

Many children with meningococcal septicaemia will also have meningococcal meningitis. Most will rapidly develop shock.

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