The death of a student at Northumbria University has prompted a leading meningitis charity to renew calls for vaccinations.
A 19-year-old girl, whose name has not been released, contracted meningococcal (group W) meningitis two weeks ago, and sadly died from the disease just days after starting at the university.
Public Health England (PHE) who made the announcement, first notified fellow residents at the student accommodation, and have offered precautionary antibiotics for those who may have had close contact with her.
Meningitis Now Young Ambassador Lyndon Longhorne, who is studying at the university, and lives at the same student accommodation, was among the first to be informed.
He said: “I wanted to become a Young Ambassador so that I could let others know what the symptoms are and also that the charity is there to help and support everyone affected by this horrible disease.
“This death of someone at my uni is a tragedy that could have been avoided – students across the UK should take notice of the danger of this disease and get the vaccination now."
The early signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia can be similar to ‘flu and include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting and muscle pain.
The more specific signs and symptoms include fever with cold hands and feet, drowsiness, confusion, pale blotchy skin, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights and a rash which doesn’t fade under pressure.
In babies, symptoms can also include being floppy and unresponsive, dislike of being handled, rapid breathing, an unusual, moaning cry and a bulging fontanelle (soft spot on the top of the head).
Liz Brown, Chief Executive at Meningitis Now, added: "We were deeply saddened to hear of the tragic loss of another young person to this disease.
"It is vitally important that students starting university protect themselves with the Men ACWY vaccine and know the signs and symptoms of the disease.”
Up to a quarter of students carry the bacteria that can cause meningitis compared to one in 10 of the general population. More than 12% of all cases occur in the 14 to 24 age group, with first year students being at particular risk.
For support and advice on meningitis call the Meningitis Now Helpline on 0808 80 10 388.
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