Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, known as the meninges.
It can affect anyone but is most common in babies and young children.
If not treated quickly, meningitis can cause life-threatening blood poisoning – septicaemia – and permanent damage to the brain or nerves.
Early signs are fever, headache, nausea, muscle pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. More specific symptoms are a fever with cold hands and feet, drowsiness, pale, blotchy skin, stiff neck, a dislike of bright lights, and a rash that doesn’t fade under pressure.
Claire Donovan, of the charity Meningitis Now, said: ‘The most important message is don’t wait for the rash because not everyone gets the rash.’