As an ambassador and befriender for the Meningitis Research Foundation, before the Covid-19 restrictions, I attended several Freshers Weeks at local universities to help raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of meningitis, the importance of understanding the difference between the disease and other illnesses, and the vaccines available to help protect students.
University students are one of the highest-risk groups for contracting meningitis, partly due to frequent indoor mingling with large groups of people. It is essential that university students are aware of the early signs and symptoms of meningitis, to look out for both themselves and their fellow students, to avoid a delay in diagnosis.
At Wolferstans, we act for clients who have suffered a delay in diagnosis of the disease, resulting in life-altering injuries including severe scarring, amputation, deafness, brain injuries, mental health conditions and tragically, death.
Symptoms are difficult to detect and vary considerably between individuals, meaning that early signs can be mistaken for a hangover, the flu, or more recently, Covid-19.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the reported cases of meningitis have dropped significantly due to social distancing. Therefore, I was saddened to learn that three students at the University of Exeter have been diagnosed with Meningococcal meningitis, a bacterial infection that can cause septicemia. This is a disease I witnessed myself, as at 32 years old my Dad contracted the same strain, and a school friend contracted viral meningitis in her first year at university.
University students are entitled to receive the MenACWY vaccine, which provides protection against some types of meningitis, and is free for students under the age of 25 who have not already been vaccinated. Whilst this does not protect against all strains of meningitis, it provides a further layer of protection to this high-risk group of young adults.
Meningitis is an airborne disease, and it is understood that the students at Exeter University were not in direct contact with each other. It is highly contagious, and all steps should be taken to prevent the spread of meningitis. The UK Health Security Agency have taken action to reduce the risk of further cases, and targeted communications are being sent to students.
It is important for all university staff and students to be aware of the symptoms, and to seek urgent medical help if they suspect meningitis in themselves or in someone else. Meningitis Research Foundation also have a Support Service available on 080 8800 3344 or firstname.lastname@example.org for anyone with queries and concerns.
If you or any members of your family have been a delay in diagnosis of any strain of meningitis, and you would like to receive free independent legal advice, without any obligation, please contact email@example.com.
Associate, Chartered Legal Executive