Meningitis – we’ve all seen the posters on the walls of our doctor’s surgeries and hospitals and begrudgingly read them while we’ve waited for our appointments; but did you know that one in four 15 – 19 year olds carry meningococcal bacteria that can cause meningitis in the back of their throats, compared to one in ten of the UK population?
Students are becoming more and more vulnerable to the potentially deadly disease due to their increased exposure to living in cramped conditions and the fact that universities bring together people from all over the world to live in one place, meaning that one can become exposed to viruses and bacteria your body hasn’t met before. Everybody’s heard of Fresher’s Flu, and this effectively is why it exists. Of course not every Freshers illness is meningitis – chances are you probably do just have a hangover, but for some, this is not the case. Students should be more vigilant and weary of the signs.
The disease is very hard to spot and often symptoms are similar to those of the flu. Early symptoms can include fever, aching muscles, headaches and vomiting. Further symptoms include; confusion, server muscle pain, dislike of light and difficult to wake. 25% of people who survive the initial diagnosis will live with life-altering consequences, ranging from deafness, blindness, epilepsy, severe mental impairment and amputation. Prevention is simple, act fast and get vaccinated.
A MenB vaccination still has not been released despite the fact that it was recommended in March 2014. The Meningitis Research Foundation have been lobbying MP Jeremy Hunt with the #wheresourvaccine campaign.
Harrison Forsyth, 22, from Welwyn Garden City has recently become an ambassador in the Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire area for the Meningitis Research Foundation who have been helping the fight against meningitis and septicaemia for 25 years.
“I lost my close friend and colleague Sarah Robotham to meningitis very suddenly. She didn’t know she was ill and that’s why I want to help make people aware of the dangers of it.”
Forsyth will be running the Reading half marathon in her memory this month but this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of fundraising. Friends and family of Sarah have been taking part in all kinds of activities including radio shows, charity nights, sky diving, charity runs which have raised just short of £20,000 to aid the fight against meningitis.
“Sarah was an inspiration, who showed true determination and dedication in everything she did. I would like to think that I am doing the same by becoming an ambassador for the Meningitis Research Foundation. ”
Being an ambassador I get to do some really great stuff like speaking to local businesses, schools and universities to help them understand the illness.
To find out more about how to spot the symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia visit www.meningitis.org. To find out more about how you can donate to Harrison’s Just Giving Campaign visit www.justgiving.com/Harrison-Forsyth4
If you think you might be suffering with meningitis please contact your GP or your local NHS urgent care service by dialing 111 (in the UK).