Sheryl Martin still cringes when she sees someone sharing a drink bottle, having seen what her daughter Sara went through when she was diagnosed with meningitis eight years ago.

"Just today, my husband and I were sitting in a cafe and I see two little boys - pre-schoolers - sharing a drink. I said to [my husband], 'What do you want to do?' He said: 'I want to go grab it off them'.

"That's what I think every time, and that's how meningitis has impacted our family," Mrs Martin said.

Sara, now 29, had just graduated from university when she was struck down by the condition in June 2004.


"I was at work ... and I suddenly felt sick and really tired, so I went and had a little sleep in my car. When I woke up, I felt like I'd been hit by a bus.

"That night after dinner, I threw up and collapsed in the hallway."

Sara was taken to the emergency clinic in North Shore, where they were told she had the flu. Her mother, Sheryl, asked whether it could be meningitis and was told to monitor her daughter throughout the night. The next day Sara's condition worsened and she ended up in a coma for three days.

Mother and daughter shared their story yesterday at the launch of a new Meningitis Foundation website at Middlemore Hospital.

The website is designed to help inform people about the condition, the symptoms and what they should do if they suspect someone has meningitis.