A NATIONAL charity is issuing a meningitis warning to children returning to school.

Meningitis Now is urging parents, teachers and students to be vigilant of the signs and symptoms throughout September, a peak month for the deadly condition.

The charity suggests people download its free phone app or request a symptoms card to spot the signs effectively.

The meningitis risk increases during the colder months as people spend more time indoors and closer to others, meaning germs are spread more easily. Also, fighting common infections like colds and flu weakens immune systems, leaving them more vulnerable to the disease.

Chief executive of Meningitis Now Sue Davie said: “Meningitis can be a difficult disease to spot – particularly at this time of year – as many of its early symptoms can be similar to those of flu.

“We urge everyone to download our app or get a card, familiarise themselves with the symptoms, trust their instincts and get urgent medical help if concerned. Doing this could save yours or a loved one’s life.”

It is a disease that can kill within hours, so knowledge of the symptoms, vigilance and quick action are vital.

Meningitis Now’s free signs and symptoms phone app and credit card-sized signs and symptoms cards for people to keep in a wallet or purse are available by calling its 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.