Phillipa Walker, of Meningitis Uk, writes:

I was concerned to read your article on January 30 about the Buckfastleigh Primary School pupils and teacher who have been struck down by meningitis. I do hope a successful outcome will prevail and we wish them all a speedy recovery.

Here at meningitis UK we sadly know only too well how devastating meningitis can be and how quickly it can take hold. Knowing the symptoms and seeking prompt treatment can make a vital difference to the outcome.

However, sadly, sometimes even if the symptons are recognised, prompt treatment sought and the best medical care is given, it is still not enough to save a life.

Meningitis is often incredibly difficult to detect as the symptoms are hard to distinguish from the common cold and flu, plus there are occasions when people show few or no symptoms.

For all these reasons, we believe prevention is the only way to truly eradicate the disease. Developing a preventative vaccine to protect against all forms of meningitis and its associated diseases is our sole focus at Meningitis UK.

Last year we launched our Search 4 a Vaccine Campaign, which aims to raise £7m to fund lifesaving research into developing a vaccine against Meningitis B – the most common form in the UK for which there is currently no vaccine. The number 4 signifies the devastating fact that meningitis can kill in under four hours.

In the absence of a vaccine, we also distribute a wide range of material to raise awareness of the common symptoms and the need to act quickly, which can mean the difference between life and death.

If readers are concerned and would like a symptoms information pack, or simply learn more, call Meningitis UK on 0117 373 7373 or visit the website at">