Meningitis has been in the news in the UK throughout 2014 but it's no time to be complacent about the symptoms; this deadly disease hasn't gone away and winter is the deadliest time as the number of cases always climbs.
Our annual Meningitis Awareness Week aims to reduce the number of cases by sharing the stories of those affected in the media. This year's Awareness Week starts on 15 September and a record-breaking 200 of our members have volunteered to take part, because they don't want other people to suffer.
Robbie Jones and his mum Jill are among those taking part. Robbie celebrates his 8th birthday during Meningitis Awareness Week. He was just 21 months old when he contracted meningitis - losing both his legs and all his fingertips. Since then he has grown in and out of numerous legs. His latest pair features his favourite football club - Manchester United. He is also learning to swim, and the joy that the freedom water brings him is clear to see. Jill says: "We had heard about meningitis but never thought it would happen to our family and had never seen the effects it could have on survivors."
My main concern this year is that people don't get complacent about meningitis. Our charity estimates 3,200 people are affected by meningitis and septicaemia in the UK every year. A quarter of survivors like Robbie are left with disabilities ranging from amputations to deafness and brain damage. One in ten affected will die: globally meningitis kills around 1000 people every single day.
Yes, a new MenB vaccine has been recommended for use on the NHS to protect babies, but it's not been implemented yet. And yes, a MenC booster campaign is currently underway to help protect those aged under 25 starting university this year. But people of all ages can be affected by many other forms of the disease. It is vital everyone knows the signs and symptoms and has the confidence to seek medical help fast when family or friends fall sick. This way we can help save lives.
For symptoms information please visit: www.meningitis.org