A STUDENT who survived meningitis twice has warned the public to learn how to spot the signs and symptoms of the killer disease this winter.
Adam Clooney admits he is lucky to have lived through – and not suffered any side effects from – the condition, which attacks up to 300 people each year.
The risk of meningitis and septicaemia is heightened around Christmas and New Year, when people's immune systems are weakened from fighting common illnesses like colds and flu.
Mr Clooney (24) got meningitis as a five-month-old baby, and again at the age of nine, when he recalls slipping in and out of consciousness in intensive care.
"I remember asking my mother if I was going to die," he said.
Meningitis Research Foundation Ireland's manager Diane McConnell said there was no vaccine available in the UK and Ireland against meningococcal B disease, although one vaccine is waiting for a licence from the European Medicines Agency.
"Both meningitis and septicaemia can be hard to recognise at first and symptoms can appear in any order, however shared symptoms are usually fever, vomiting, headache and feeling unwell, just like many other mild illnesses," she added.
"They can leave a baby, child or adult fighting for their life within hours of the first symptoms.
"Knowing the symptoms and acting fast can save lives."
For support or information, call the Meningitis Research Foundation Ireland's freephone helpline on (1800) 41 33 44.