Meningitis B Two hospitalised as new cases at university confirmed
TWO people have been hospitalised after a confirmed case of meningitis at the University of Bristol.
Public Health England (PHE) has issued advice to students after both cases were identified as Meningitis B.
PHE said students who share accommodation with the patients, who are friends, have been given antibiotics and vaccinations to reduce the risk of the infection spreading.
Students are being urged to look out for their housemates as symptoms “can look a lot like a hang-over”.
However, PHE said other people in the wider university setting are not considered to be at an increased risk of developing meningococcal disease and said there is currently no need to take any specific action or change the university routine for students and staff.
The two friends are receiving treatment in Cardiff and are said to be recovering well. Meningococcal bacteria are carried in the back of the throat of about one in 10 people at any one time, but only very rarely cause illness.
Most people who carry the bacteria become immune to them. The bacteria do not spread easily and only those who have had close prolonged contact with the person, normally family members, or those sharing the same accommodation (such as a shared kitchen/ bathroom) are at a slightly greater risk of getting ill.
Fiona Neely, consultant in health protection at Public Health England South West, said: “We understand there will be concern among students, staff and parents following these cases, and we are following national guidelines in implementing control measures such as eliminating carriage in close contacts to reduce spread of infection.
“It’s important to reassure all concerned that apart from the very close contacts that are being offered antibiotics and vaccination, there is no need for a wider group of students or staff to take antibiotics or be vaccinated.
“The best advice remains for everyone to be aware of and alert to the signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia, especially students and their parents.”
PHE said early recognition of meningitis and septicaemia symptoms can greatly improve the outcome of the disease.
Ms Neely continued: “We urge students to look out for your housemates as symptoms of meningitis can look a lot like a hangover – so it’s important to be vigilant for anything out of character.
“We would also urge students to register with the Students’ Health Service and to take up the offer of the MenACWY vaccine which is available to students as part of the routine vaccination schedule for this age group.”
Dr Tom Nutt, Meningitis Now chief executive, said: “We are concerned to learn of these Bristol cases, and extend our thoughts and best wishes to the individuals affected and their families.
“Meningitis is a relatively rare disease, and we urge students at the university not to panic. But being aware of the risk, and learning the signs and symptoms of the disease is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your friends against meningitis.”
The charity is also urging all students to check whether they have been vaccinated against meningitis ACWY and if not to ask their GP for the vaccine.
If anyone is feeling unusually unwell, and displaying the symptoms of meningitis or septicaemia, they should contact their GP surgery immediately or call NHS 111.
❝ The best advice remains for everyone to be aware of and alert to the symptoms