Guidelines, published this week by the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN), warn that IMD can be incredibly difficult to detect because the symptoms are very similar to that of the common cold or flu.
Up to 10% of children who contract the disease will die, according to SIGN, with most deaths occurring within the first 24 hours before the child receives specialist care.
The new guideline is the most comprehensive evidence-based review of IMD to date. It provides guidance on how primary care nurses can distinguish between children with meningitis and those with less harmful viral illnesses.
Kerry Ross, Scotland community services nurse for the charity the Meningitis Trust, said: ‘This guideline is extremely important for nurses and should be the first point of call for anyone making a clinical judgement about IMD.'