With temperatures predicted to soar this week, the UK's longest established meningitis charity - the Meningitis Trust - is urging people to be aware of the signs and symptoms of the disease, as cases are known to peak during hot summers.
Viral meningitis is a disease that can cause life-changing after-effects and although it is very rarely life-threatening, it can take people a long time to recover. There isn't a vaccine to prevent it, so vigilance is the key to keeping yourself and others around you safe this summer.
The Meningitis Trust's Services and Education Director, Bridie Taylor, says, "Viral meningitis usually isn't as serious as the bacterial form of the disease; however, while most people make a full recovery, some are left with serious and debilitating after-effects, including damage to hearing, severe and recurring headaches, depression and extreme tiredness.
"We are urging people to be aware of the signs and symptoms and to act quickly if they are concerned about their health".
In the initial stages, the signs and symptoms of viral meningitis are the same as bacterial meningitis; they include fever, headache, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights, vomiting and diarrhoea, confusion and aching joints and muscles. In babies, refusing feeds, fretful and a moaning or high-pitched cry are also signs. The symptoms can appear in any order and some may not appear at all.
Like other viral illnesses, viral meningitis is not treatable with antibiotics - it requires plenty of bed rest, painkillers and good nursing care, however some cases may require urgent hospital treatment for testing.
The Trust provides professional services and support for everyone touched by meningitis, as well as raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of the disease. There are around 3,000 cases of bacterial meningitis every year in the UK and it is estimated there are twice that number of cases of viral meningitis, however there is no real way of recording the number of cases as some are never reported.