Students across the North East are being encouraged to register with a GP in order to receive their Meningitis immunisation.
Those born between 01/09/96 and 31/08/97 should already have been contacted by their GP. Given the recent rise in the disease, from the current academic year (2016/17) all year 9 students in the UK will be routinely immunised in school.
Men W is a relatively new phrase, but its one we should expect to be hearing more. Men W carries the dark shadow of a 13% fatality rate, it is not dissimilar to other strains of meningitis but it is set apart as it can cause other illnesses such as pneumonia and joint infections. In 2009, 23 cases of Men W were recorded in the UK, in 2014 this figure skyrocketed to 119 cases. Although there has been such an increase in reported cases of this disease, Claire Donnovan (helpline manager and medical team member for Meningitis Now) told us that there has been no real increase in the amount of students getting the immunisation.
The symptoms of meningitis have in the past been confused for a very bad hangover, but if there is any doubt in mind, then it is recommended you call 101 and speak to a medical expert.
Beth Wilkie, a 22-year-old student from Hartlepool has suffered from the disease and told us just what to look out for. She said that she felt she was ‘frozen’ to her bed and could not bear for the lights to be turned on, looking at a screen (something one might do to check their symptoms) was not an option for her. Beth caught meningitis from exposure to someone else with the illness, but this is not the only way it can be contracted. Claire informed us that a staggering 1 in 4 students carry meningitis in the back of their throat – meningitis lays dormant in most of these people so there is no need for concern.
The only way to avoid meningitis is to get immunised, this is free for all university students aged under 25.