TWO students at Strathclyde University have been diagnosed with meningitis, prompting warnings for young people to make themselves aware of the symptoms of the potentially deadly condition.
The university said the cases were not connected, but that it was working closely with public health officials. An email has been sent to 29,000 students, aleting them and warning of the symptoms of the illness.
After babies and young children, teenagers and young people are the second most at-risk group regarding meningitis and septicaemia, charity Meningitis Now has warned.
Meningitis can strike quickly and kill within hours, with the winter being a “peak time for cases of bacterial meningitis”.
One of the students diagnosed is reported to be studying education and psychology and the second is studying computer science and law.
An email from the university’s director of student experience and enhancement, Veena O’Halloran, reads: “The two cases are not connected but as a precaution we are circulating information about the signs and symptoms to the whole university community.
“Please note that the affected students’ close contacts have already been identified and given medical advice. As you do not fall into this close contact category, you are not considered at risk.”
The university confirmed that all students had been emailed. Meningitis Now have warned students to make themselves aware of the symptoms and look out for each other.
A spokesman said: “Winter is peak time for bacterial meningitis, especially among students. It can be passed from person to person by coughing, sneezing and intimate kissing. Increased social interaction in this age group means that the bacteria 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 the world – to live in one place and can be exposed to bacteria and viruses their bodies have not met before.”
The early symptoms of meningitis are easily mistaken for something else, such as flu, or even a hangover.
The symptoms can include fever, a severe headache, stiff neck, drowsiness or confusion, aversion to bright light, painful joints, nausea and vomiting, and a rash or red and purple spots or bruises that do not disappear when pressed with a glass.
Earlier this month, Northumbria University law student Rebecca Edwards died of meningitis just weeks after arriving in the north-east from Malaysia. Her body is now set to be flown home to her family.
The 22-year-old died in hospital after being struck down with the disease.