A woman from Bushey, who acts as the regional ambassador for national charity Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF), is encouraging her local community to recognise Meningitis Awareness Week.

Meningitis and septicaemia affects about 3,600 people in the UK and Ireland annually, killing one in ten, and leaving a quarter of survivors with life altering after-effects from deafness and brain damage to loss of limbs.

Bushey resident Emily Furniss is now asking her local community to be "MeningitisWise" during Meningitis Awareness Week, which runs from September 17 to 23.

She said: "I have been supporting MRF since July 2011 when my 23-month-old son George contracted group B meningococcal and septicaemia.

"George spent two weeks in hospital seriously ill, including a terrifying week in intensive care where he suffered three cardiac arrests and was given only a 20 per cent chance of survival.

"Luckily he survived, but we were shocked by the speed and severity of this appalling disease and feel just so relieved to have our little boy home in one piece when so many others aren't so lucky."

MRF’s project ‘Counting the Cost of Meningitis’ estimates that the life-long costs to the UK Government of medical treatment and ongoing care for a person seriously disabled by the disease are around £3million.

An 18,000 strong petition was presented this week to No.10 Downing Street calling on the Government to pursue the widest and earliest implementation of vaccines when they are available in order to cover all strains of the disease.

Christopher Head, chief executive of MRF, said: "Many people are not aware that the current vaccines available do not prevent all strains of meningitis and septicaemia so it’s vitally important that the people of Hertfordshire are MeningitisWise and remain vigilant about the symptoms of meningitis.

"Thank you to everyone who supported our ‘Counting the Cost of Meningitis’ campaign and signed our petition and we hope you will continue to support us and the work that Emily does to support the fight against these life altering diseases"

To find out more about the symptoms visit the MRF website on www.meningitis.org or download the iPhone App from: bit.ly/MRFapp