AS young people from across the borough are gearing up to head to university next month a charity wants to warn people about the dangers of meningitis.

Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surrounded the brain and spinal cord.

It can affect anyone, but is most common in babies, young children, teenagers, and young adults.

However, the charity, Meningitis Now wants to warn students of the potential symptoms of the illness as they are similar to those of coronavirus.

The early signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia can be similar to the flu, a tummy bug or a hangover and include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pain, stomach cramps and fever with cold hands and feet.

More specific symptoms can include pale blotchy skin, dislike of bright lights and a rash which doesn't fade under pressure.

The charity has urged young people to visit a doctor immediately if they show signs of these symptoms as meningitis can be deadly if left untreated.

Nick Gilbert from the charity, suffered from meningitis himself and collapsed in a London street after showing the symptoms of the illness.

Passers-by thought Nick was drunk but his condition could have been life-threatening.

I dread to think how the outcome could have been different if I’d just gone home and shut myself away from everybody,” said Nick. “It’s vital that anybody who feels ill does not automatically assume it’s Covid-19.

“Learn the signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia. Let someone know if you are feeling unwell. If you are concerned about yourself or a friend, trust your instincts and get urgent medical advice. Call NHS 111 or in an emergency dial 999.”

Meningitis Now has online resources to help parents and young people to identify the signs of meningitis. To access the information, click here.