Meningitis is a very serious, potentially life threatening infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. While cases are relatively rare anyone can be affected by meningitis and septicaemia, but there are certain age groups who are more likely to be affected. Higher Education students, particularly Freshers, are known to be at increased risk of meningococcal disease. This rapid rise of MenW disease nationally led to the introduction of a targeted vaccination programme. The MenACWY vaccination was offered to all 14-18 year olds, and to Freshers.
Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord (meninges). Meningococcal disease can develop suddenly, usually as meningitis or septicaemia. It can kill or leave people with life changing disabilities, and health problems.
There has been a rapid increase in one type of meningococcal disease, MenW, in recent years in the UK. This recent MenW strain has been particularly virulent. It can be difficult to diagnose, because it has been associated with symptoms infrequently seen with meningococcal disease, e.g severe diarrhoea , and vomiting.
This vaccine will save lives. It is extremely important that all Freshers are aware, and have the opportunity to be vaccinated before they arrive at University, or as soon as possible after they arrive.
(Taken from the Meningitis for HEI guide)
The symptoms of Meningitis and Septicaemia are listed below. Not everyone will develop these symptoms – one or more symptoms can appear in any order. They can be mixed between the two illnesses.
- Very bad headache
- Stiff neck
- Dislike of bright lights
- Confusion, delirium
- Severe sleepiness, losing consciousness
- Severe sleepiness, losing consciousness
- Fever, and shivering
- Severe pains, and aches in joints and limbs
- Very cold hands and feet
- Pale, or mottled skin
- Rapid breathing
- Diarrhoea , and stomach cramps
- Red or purple spots/rash that do not fade under pressure
- Difficulty walking, or standing
What do I need to know about meningitis vaccinations?
All students are strongly encouraged to check if they have received all of their Meningitis vaccinations, before starting University. UK first year undergraduates should already have been offered MenACWY vaccine at school, College or by their GP before they leave for their HEI. A single dose is required.
1. I haven’t had all my Meningitis vaccinations yet, and I’m starting University for the first time in a month, what do I do?
If a student discovers that they have not received all the appropriate Meningitis vaccinations before University, they are advised to go to their GP to receive the missing vaccination(s) at least 2 weeks before arriving at University. This ensures that the immunisation has time to take effect.
2. I haven’t been vaccinated, but am a fresher already in University, do I still need to be vaccinated?
If a student forgets to get vaccinated before arrival, they should ensure that they register with a GP as soon as they arrive, and ask for the free vaccination.
3. I’m not a Fresher but I’ve never been vaccinated, do I need it now?
If a student has not received their full Meningitis vaccinations and it is later on in the academic year, or the student is a second or third year etc., it is not too late to be vaccinated. Make sure that you register with a GP, and get vaccinated as soon as you can.
What are the dangers if i’m not vaccinated?
Meningitis can be very serious if not treated quickly. It can cause life-threatening blood poisoning (septicaemia), and result in permanent damage to the brain or nerves.
Most people with bacterial meningitis, who are treated quickly, will also make a full recovery. Some are left with serious, long-term problems. These can include:
•Hearing loss or vision loss, which may be partial or total
•Problems with memory, and concentration
•Recurrent seizures (epilepsy)
•Co-ordination, movement, and balance problems
•Loss of limbs – amputation of affected limbs is sometimes necessary
Overall, it's estimated that up to 1 in every 10 cases of bacterial meningitis is fatal.
(Taken from www.nhs.co.uk)
What do the University do if there is a case of meningitis:
When is a student is affected by the disease, Swansea University follow guidance issued by Public Health Wales. To support the student and enable the identification of any other students who may be at risk and to ensure they are offered appropriate advice.
In an emergency on Singleton Campus, you can call 333 from an internal phone to speak to security. They can call an ambulance for you and send out first responders to assist you on campus. Students on Bay Campus can dial :- 01792 606010 to be put through to Bay Campus Security.
If you need any medical advice about meningitis, please contact:
•Your own General Practitioner; and / or
•NHS 111 Service (dial 111); and / or
•The University Health Centre (01792 295321)
•SA1 Medical Centre (01792 481444)
For further general information about meningitis please contact:
•Meningitis Now (0808 8010388); and /or
•The Meningitis Research Foundation (0808 8003344)
•The Public Health Wales Team
•The NHS website
NHS Direct Wales
0845 46 47