A couple who suffered the devastating loss of their four-year-old daughter have warned other parents to be vigilant against meningitis.
Siobhan and Noel Carroll were plunged into grief following the death of little Aoibhe in 2008.
The little girl was looking forward to starting school when her life was tragically cut short.
Now the brave couple are urging other families to become aware of the symptoms associated with the deadly disease.
"Our daughter Aoibhe was due to start primary school and she was very excited about starting 'big school'," the couple wrote to promote awareness of the disease.
"On one fateful night in April however, Aoibhe went to bed, and woke around 9pm saying she didn't feel well.
"A few hours after that, and despite our best efforts, our darling daughter died.
"We were later told it was from meningitis. She was just four years old.
"Carrying your child's coffin is something a parent should never have to do."
Siobhan and Noel warn that symptoms of the brain-attacking disease are not always evident as they resemble that of a common flu.
Early signs include pain in the neck, headaches, fever, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to lights and seizures.
As the disease progresses, a rash (septicemia) may appear, warns The Meningitis Trust.
The terrible illness can become deadly as it starts to inflame the lining covering the brain and spinal cord -- called the 'meninges'.
The national charity provides support to families affected by the disease, including home visits and professional counselling, and it also raises awareness.
Last week, The Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) launched a campaign to warn students as their research revealed that one-in-10 young people has not heard of the illness.
While some forms of meningitis caused by a virus do not pose a serious threat, others caused by bacteria and transmitted through saliva, can be very dangerous.
Many forms of meningitis are easily prevented with a vaccination, notably groups A, B, C, W135 and Y, but "there isn't a vaccine for every type of meningitis, so our children and teenagers are not fully protected", said Siobhan and Noel. "Knowledge is your protection."
About 6pc of the 300 Irish people infected with the disease each year will die.
Those most at risk are children under the age of five; teenagers and young adults; and people over 55.
Some survivors are left with severe medical problems such as amputation, brain damage, deafness and organ damage.
For more information, contact the Meningitis Trust nurses on their 24 Hour Helpline (1800 523 196).