A MENINGITIS survivor who had to have both legs amputated below the knee is urging people to be aware of the signs of the deadly disease as she bids to become a paralympian.

Diana Man has spent the last eight years rebuilding her life after being struck down by the virus and is now backing a national campaign warning it can strike at any age.

Ms Man, 32, said: “Most people assume meningitis is something that affects babies and students but it can affect anyone at any time.”

The keen horse-rider now uses prosthetic legs and her long term aim is to compete in the Paralympics dressage competition.

She lives a normal life in spite of her disability but admits it took her a long time to get there.

Ms Man fell ill one evening in 2007 while working in a pub and when she went home she went straight to bed. She remembers nothing after that point.

Fortunately the next morning her mother recognised the distinctive rash on Ms Man’s body that indicates meningitis and she was rushed to hospital.

Ms Man had to be resuscitated as well as being given antibiotics because her heart had stopped.

Over the coming days Ms Man, from Uckfield, had both lower legs amputated as well as the fingers of her right hand.

She said: “All I remember is going to bed and then coming round in hospital and finding out what had happened.

“I remember being determined that losing my legs would not stop me and once I had the prosthetic legs I would be able to get on with my life.

“But it turned out not to be as simple as that. When I left hospital after six months I realised it was not going to be as easy as I had thought. There was a long period of adjustment.

“I had to have another operation on my legs and in the first year it was very difficult being out in the real world.”

Ms Man, who also suffers from epilepsy as a result of her illness, is now focusing on the future with her partner Bob Aldridge.

She is backing Meningitis Research Foundation’s (MRF) awareness campaign in a bid to help other families avoid what hers went through.

MRF chief executive Christopher Head said: “As Diana is well aware meningitis and septicaemia are diseases that can leave a baby, child or adult fighting for their life within hours of the first symptoms.

“Both meningitis and septicaemia can be hard to recognise, as the early symptoms are similar to those of many other milder illnesses. More specific symptoms can appear in any order.

“Don’t be complacent if a loved one is sick. Knowing the symptoms and acting fast can save a life. If anyone has any concerns we urge you to trust your instincts and seek urgent medical advice from your local GP or hospital.”