Meningitis in Students

Kindly reproduced with permission from The Meningitis Trust

Children under five are the most at risk group, but the next most vulnerable group are teenagers and young adults (16-25).

Why are young adults and teenagers at risk of meningitis?

  • One in four 15 – 19 year olds carry these bacteriaA group of organisms too small to be seen with the naked eye, which are usually made up of just a single cell. in the back of their throats, compared to one in ten of the UK population.
  • You can be a carrier without becoming ill and in most cases it will help boost your natural immunity. In an age group where more people are carrying the bacteriaA group of organisms too small to be seen with the naked eye, which are usually made up of just a single cell., more disease will occur.
  • Meningococcal bacteriaA group of organisms too small to be seen with the naked eye, which are usually made up of just a single cell. are passed from person to person by coughing, sneezing and intimate kissing, increased social interaction in this age group means that the bacteriaA group of organisms too small to be seen with the naked eye, which are usually made up of just a single cell. can be passed on more easily.
  • University students can be more vulnerable due to living in more cramped housing or halls of residence. In many cases young people come together from all over the country - and indeed world - to live in one place and can be exposed to bacteriaA group of organisms too small to be seen with the naked eye, which are usually made up of just a single cell. and virusesMicrobes that are only able to multiply within living cells. their bodies have not met before. This is why so many new students get ‘fresher’s fluA viral infection affecting the respiratory system.’.
  • As the early symptoms of meningitis can disguise themselves as other things, such as common illnesses like fluA viral infection affecting the respiratory system., or maybe a hangover, it’s easy to mistake meningitis for something else.
  • When students go off to university, it is often the first time they are living away from their parents and, more often than not, their own health and wellbeing is not a priority for them. With no parents to keep an eye on their health, meningitis can get missed. It is vital that someone always knows if you are feeling unwell and can check up on you.

Trust your instincts

  • If you think someone has meningitis or septicaemia get medical help immediately.
  • You know your child, a loved one, or your own body, best. Describe the symptoms and say you think it could be meningitis or septicaemia.
  • Early diagnosisThe process of determining which condition a patient may have. can be difficult. If you have had advice and are still worried, get medical help again.

What can you do?

Familiarise yourself with meningitis signs and symptoms, remain vigilant and seek medical help immediately if concerned, you could save a life.

Effective vaccines are available to prevent some types of meningitis. Always check your vaccines are up-to-date with your doctor before going to university. A meningococcal group C vaccine is available for all under 25s, and anyone going to university for the first time.

Vaccination does not protect against all types of meningitis, make sure you know the signs and symptoms to look out for.

© The Meningitis Trust     www. meningitis-trust.org