Many readers will have seen the recent good news about new vaccines for meningitis for babies and students.
However we want to issue a warning as the new school year starts against complacency towards the disease.
These new vaccines do not mean meningitis is beaten.
We would urge parents, students and teachers to be vigilant to the signs and symptoms.
Meningitis is a disease that can kill within hours, so knowledge of the symptoms, vigilance and quick action are vital.
The meningitis risk increases during the colder months.
Fighting common infections like colds and flu weakens immune systems, leaving them more vulnerable to the disease.
It can be a difficult disease to spot as many of its early symptoms can be similar to those of flu.
Symptoms can 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 and, in babies, a dislike of being handled, an unusual cry, rapid breathing and bulging fontanelle.
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.
Our advice is not to wait for a rash, the symptom most commonly associated with meningitis.
This doesn’t always appear and can appear late.
If concerned, seek urgent medical attention.