EVERY second counts if your child catches the deadly brain disease, meningitis, warns Widnes mum, Rachael Vickery.

Her 13-month-old son, Ryan contracted Meningococcal Septicaemia, when they were on holiday in Cuba for a family wedding.

Miraculously, she recognised the symptoms and he was in intensive care within 24 hours.

Rachael, aged 41, a civil service lawyer, of Parklands, said: “He was very tetchy and vomiting. We noticed spots coming all over his body and did the glass test. The spots did not disappear. I knew exactly what it was.”

Ryan was rushed to hospital where medics immediately treated him.

Rachael said: “The hospital looked destitute but the medical staff’s knowledge was phenomenal.

“He was covered in lesions and his arms, hands and feet were ice cold.

“They put olive oil on his feet and bound his feet and hands. I’m ever thankful because a lot of septicaemia victims end up losing arms and legs.”

An emergency evacuation then flew Ryan and his family to Miami Children’s Hospital, where he spent three weeks in intensive care.Rachael said: “It was like Ghostbusters, moving Ryan off machines. He was not conscious.

“It’s your worse nightmare.

“Thankfully, he responded well.”

Ryan and his twin brother, Jake, are now fit and healthy 10-year-olds.

Rachael and her husband, Neale, aged 46, have become regional ambassadors for Meningitis Research Foundation, to warn families of the dangers of this deadly disease which can strike without warning.

Rachael said: “Ryan is very confident, loves football and is rugby mad.

“We are so thankful he is perfect with no side effects.

“My tip to parents is to have a fridge magnet with the symptoms on.

“It is a race against time. You have to act fast.”

To find out about the symptoms, visit www.meningitis.org