Do you know the symptoms of meningitis?

A University of Bath student has been admitted to hospital suffering from bacterial meningitis. She is receiving treatment and is recovering well.

This notice is to give you some information about the disease, explain what is happening as a result and to remind you of the symptoms of bacterial meningitis.

How does bacterial meningitis spread?

The germs that cause bacterial meningitis are carried in the back of the throat of about one in ten people at any one time, but rarely cause illness. Most people who carry the bacteria become immune to them.

The germs do not spread easily but can be transferred from one person to another through secretions from the nose or throat during close contact.  The infection is not acquired simply by being in the same room as an infected person.

It is only those who have had close contact with a person who has bacterial meningitis who are at a small increased risk of contracting the disease. People who have not had such contact are unlikely to be at a higher risk or to require special treatment or investigation.

What the University is doing

The University has worked with the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and the Medical Centre to identify people who may be at increased risk of the infection as a result of being close, usually household, contacts of the student concerned.

These individuals have been contacted and given advice. The risk of developing the disease remains low even in this group of people.

Since the student had not had any tutorials or practical sessions last week, the HPA does not see the need to alert any other students specifically.

However, it is advisable to be aware of the symptoms of the disease

Symptoms

As at other times, we recommend that you watch out for symptoms in yourself, your friends and your colleagues.

Early diagnosis and treatment are the best defence against this potentially serious disease.

The symptoms of meningitis include:

  • severe headache
  • high temperature/fever
  • vomiting
  • stiff neck
  • pale, blotchy skin
  • drowsiness/lethargy
  • joint pains
  • cold hands and feet
  • rash of red/purple spots which looks like bruising under the skin

Note: Only some of these symptoms may show.

Although you may have been vaccinated against the C strain of meningitis, the vaccine does not protect against other strains of the disease. So, it is important to remain vigilant whether you have been vaccinated or not.

Worried?

If you are worried that you may have the symptoms of meningitis, or if you think you have observed them in someone else, please seek immediate medical advice from your registered GP.

If the situation appears to be an emergency, call 999.

More information about meningitis is available from Related Links in the left column; many of the charities run 24-hour national help lines.

Please keep your department informed if you suspect you have the disease.

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