MENINGITIS can kill within hours of infection and historically the end of September sees the start of a peak in cases
These mainly affect children under five and those between 15 and 23 and national charity the Meningitis Trust is warning that with children back at school and university terms starting, parents, students and teachers should be vigilant of the signs and symptoms.
Confusingly many of the early symptoms are similar to flu and may include fever with cold hands and feet, vomiting, headache, stiff neck, dislike of bright light, joint or muscle pain, pale blotchy skin, drowsiness and confusion.
In babies, a dislike of being handled, an unusual cry, rapid breathing and bulging fontanelle can also be evident.
Both adults and children may also have a rash that does not fade under pressure.
Symptoms can appear in any order and some may not appear at all.
If concerned, seek urgent medical attention.