Many parents often wait for the classic meningitis symptom of a rash before seeking medical help, believing this is the first symptom of the condition, as demonstrated by this survey.

UK based charities, Meningitis Now and the Meningitis Research Foundation, advise parents to trust their instincts and not to wait until a rash develops before seeking help.

The first symptoms of meningitis are usually a general feeling of being unwell, fever, vomiting and headache.

Meningitis Research Foundation support head Rob Dawson said: "This terrible disease is difficult to spot so it is vital that parents are prepared and act quickly if a sick child gets rapidly worse."