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Written on 6th October 2016 by Sita Soni

Have you just started at university?

I’m sure by now you will be aware of the symptoms of fresher’s flu; headaches, a fever, disliking bright lights. But did you know these could also be symptoms of meningitis?

Infections that cause meningitis can be spread through sneezing, coughing, kissing and sharing utensils, and with first year students being surrounded by hundreds of other teenagers it’s no surprise that University students are amongst the highest ‘at risk’ groups.

What is meningitis?

Our brain and spinal cord is surrounded by membranes which act as a protective barrier. When organisms, such as bacteria and viruses, cause these membranes to become inflamed, this is known as meningitis.

The symptoms include:

  • A high temperature
  • Being sick
  • A headache
  • A blotchy rash that doesn’t fade when a glass is rolled over it
  • A stiff neck
  • A dislike of bright lights
  • Drowsiness or unresponsiveness

What happens if meningitis goes untreated?

The disease develops rapidly and can be fatal within 24 hours. For those who survive meningitis, the after-effects will vary. Although many people will make a good recovery, others will be left with life-long and disabling after-effects. Regardless of the outcome, the impact of the disease is huge, changing lives forever.

How can you protect yourself?

Students and young adults are particularly susceptible to an aggressive form of meningococcal bacteria, known as Men W. As a result of this, the Men ACWY vaccine has been introduced in the UK, free to all 17-18 year olds and first year uni students, aged 19-25. Head down to your local GP for your free ACWY vaccine.

If you suspect you or one of your friends may have developed meningitis, get medical help as soon as possible. Early recognition and prompt treatment, especially antibiotics, can be life-saving. It is estimated that up to 1 in every 10 cases of bacterial meningitis is fatal. Trust your instincts, get medical help immediately.

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