It’s an exciting time of year. Either you’re returning to campus, or you’ve arrived at Reading for the first time. You’re probably living and interacting with lots of new people, and you’ve all come from different parts of the country – and even the world – to experience university together.
Whilst nothing should detract from you enjoying this exciting time, sharing your space with so many other people can mean sharing with a few new bugs too.
For the most part, the most you’ll catch is ‘freshers’ flu’; however, did you know you are one of the groups which is also at risk of contracting Meningitis? Meningitis is a relatively rare but very serious and fast moving disease. As well as being potentially fatal, it can lead to problems such as brain injury, loss of limbs, and hearing and sight problems.
First things first, are you up to date with your MMR vaccine? This protects against measles, mumps and rubella; infections that can potentially lead to Meninigitis, amongst other serious illnesses. Find out more about the MMR vaccine here.
Next, make sure you check out our information below to help you stay aware and protect yourself and others.
How can you get meningitis?
The Meningococcal bacteria can be passed from one person to another by:
- Sharing kitchen utensils
- Sharing personal belongings such as a cigarette or toothbrush
What symptoms should I look out for?
- Meningitis can be deceiving, and early symptoms can appear as other illnesses, such as flu. Even what feels like a hangover could be the first symptoms of the disease.
- Also look out for: vomiting, drowsiness, confusion, fever, cold hands and feet, sore muscles, pale skin with spots or a rash, severe headache, stiff neck, convulsions, and a dislike of bright lights.
- You can experience just some or all of these symptoms, in any order.
How can I protect myself?
- If you haven’t already, make sure you register with a local GP. Have a look at information on local medical practises.
- Get your vaccination! Once you’ve registered at the GP, ask them about booking a vaccination.
- Tell a friend if you don’t feel well and equally, look out for your friends. If you recognise signs and symptoms, seek medical help immediately.
Meningitis Now is a charity which works to raise awareness of the disease, and starting next week on the 19 October, they are holding an awareness week for new students, called ‘Off to uni’. Keep an eye on their website for more details. The campaign aims to make students aware of the new vaccine that protects against strains ACWY. This vaccine is only available to first year students, coming into the University environment for the first time.
- NHS Meningitis page
- Reading University Medical Practise registration page
- Check for Meningitis symptoms
We hope this helps, but do take a look at our useful links for more information. Don’t let anything get in the way of you having the best time possible at university.