Plea to be aware of meningitis symptoms

Concern has been expressed about cases of meningitis among students.
Concern has been expressed about cases of meningitis among students.

A leading meningitis charity has expressed concern about the number of cases of the infection among students in Scotland.

The Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) is also raising awareness of the infection to parents of younger children who, as well as teenagers and students, are being warned to be especially aware of the symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia during the winter months.

Although there are vaccines to cover some strains, they do not cover all types of the disease.

Dr Claire Cameron, Strategic Lead, Vaccine Preventable Diseases at Health Protection Scotland, said: “Parents of babies and young children should make themselves aware of the symptoms. Students starting university and mixing with lots of new people, some of whom may unknowingly carry the meningococcal bacteria, are also at risk of infection.”

Meningitis and septicaemia are often mistaken for milder illnesses, such as flu, and in the winter months people are more susceptible because their immune systems can be weakened fighting common infections. Bacterial meningitis and septicaemia can kill and seriously disable a healthy person within hours. Around one in 10 people affected will die and a third of survivors will be left with after-effects, some as serious as brain damage, amputations, blindness and hearing loss.