Meningitis is particularly prevalent in closed or semi-closed communities such as halls of residence and young people are a vulnerable group. Statistics indicate that in a typical year at University there are likely to be one or two cases of meningitis and experience bears this out.
Meningitis means inflammation of the meninges (lining of the brain). It can be caused by several different organisms, mainly bacteria and viruses.
There are TWO major forms : Bacterial and Viral
- More common, generally less serious
- Spread through Coughing, Sneezing; poor hygiene
- Treatment through good nursing care;
- No antibiotics
- Recovery usually complete, some symptoms may persist
- Rare, but potentially very serious. Needs urgent treatment.
- Strains B and C occur most frequently in the UK. Most students are vaccinated against strain C, leaving them most vulnerable to the B strain.
- Spread through close contact; coughing, sneezing, kissing. Not from water, buildings etc.
- Treatment through antibiotics
- Potentially life threatening; possible long-term side-effects.
- Two forms : Meningococcal & Pneumococcal
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS:
Headache- Gradual onset, constant, generalised, increased severity in bending the neck forward.
- Neck pain-increased severity in bending the neck forward.
- Sensitivity to Bright Light (Photophobia)
- Red/blue rash or bruising anywhere on the skin which does not disappear temporarily on pressing for a few seconds
The symptoms may not all appear at the same time and can vary between different age groups.
Early symptoms can be like a severe case of flu. The Symptoms can change with the passage of time. If you are concerned, phone your doctor for advice on the best course of action. If there is a delay, then it is best to go straight to Accident and Emergency (Casualty).
If you have been in contact with someone who has meningitis, you should contact your Campus Nurse/ Doctor to find out any instructions (from the hospital or Public Health department) that they may have been given. Otherwise your doctor will be able to give you appropriate advice.
Only those who have been in very close contact with the person are given antibiotics as a precaution.
Have a look at
Tom's story and Helen's Story
For further information
Meningitis Trust tel: 0800 028 18 28
Meningitis Research Foundation Tel: 080 8800 3344