If you or your child have these symptoms, you must go to A&E - meningitis charity urges families not to be put off by reports of swamped hospitals

Patients or their families who suspect meningitis have been urged not to be "put off" going to A&E.

Reports of heaving emergency departments and long waits for care should not deter people from seeking immediate help, Meningitis Now said.

Meningitis is a medical emergency and cases of bacterial meningitis are known to increase over the winter period, the charity said.

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Meningitis Now chief executive Dr Tom Nutt said: "We understand the pressures that the NHS is currently facing.

"However, if you suspect meningitis, seek medical help immediately - please do not hesitate or be put off by recent stories of a struggling NHS.

"It is vital to seek help as quickly as possible, as we know that early medical intervention can vastly improve outcomes."

Between the months of January and March 2017, there were 266 cases of meningococcal meningitis, compared with 120 cases between July and September, the charity said.

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Common signs and symptoms of meningitis include fever, vomiting, drowsiness, confusion, severe muscle pain, severe headache, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights, convulsions or seizures, pale or blotchy skin and spots or a rash.