WITH children returning to school soon, National Charity Meningitis Now is warning parents to keep vigilant during the start of the peak season for meningitis. September sees the highest cases of meningitis and the charity are urging parents, students and teachers to look out for the signs and symptoms and download their free phone app or request a symptoms card.

While children under 5 are at most risk, teenagers and students are the second on the list. The meningitis risk increases during the colder months as people spend more time indoors and being closer to others. Fighting common infections weakens immune systems, leaving people more vulnerable to the disease.

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.

Meningitis Now’s free signs and symptoms phone app and credit card-sized signs are available by calling their freephone helpline on 0808 80 10 388, or visiting the website at www.meningitisnow.org.

The charity will support anyone who has experience of meningitis. For further information on how to access these services call the helpline on the above number.