Are students clued up on meningitis?

Are students clued up on meningitis?

14 September 2010

Over 50% of students in the UK do not know whether they have been vaccinated against deadly disease meningitis, according to new research from national charity Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF).

With students being the second most at risk group from meningitis, national charity MRF conducted a survey, polling over 1000 students aged 17 – 24, to find out just how much they really know about the devastating disease.

MRF is currently funding 26 research projects into the prevention, detection and treatment of meningitis and septicaemia – the blood poisoning form of the disease - yet over 10% of students in the UK have not heard of either disease.

Students surveyed ranked themselves as the second least at risk group - when in fact they are the second most at risk, after babies and young children. Furthermore, 70% of 17-year-olds do not know whether they have been vaccinated against meningitis.

A quarter of students believe a rash is present in all cases of meningitis, when in fact there are some types of meningitis where a rash does not appear at all. Students need to be vigilant of other symptoms including fever, vomiting, dislike of bright lights and neck stiffness, and not only look out for the rash.

25% of them also believe they cannot contract meningitis if they have been vaccinated which unfortunately is not true. Again, 25% could not identify how the bacteria which causes meningitis is transmitted and 20% could not identify what puts them more at risk, such as flu and smoking.

To combat this lack of knowledge of the deadly diseases and to boost awareness, MRF is launching a unique iPhone app this month, to coincide with their annual Awareness Week September 20-26. The free app will include a symptoms checker, emergency contact information, latest news and links to further information. It will be available to download for free at the iTunes store.

The charity has also issued a wide range of awareness resources to schools and colleges across the nation including over 70,000 spot the symptoms wall planners, posters and leaflets.


  • Available case studies,  and more information on the student survey, Awareness Week and the iPhone app in the Get the Message Media Centre
  • Meningitis Research Foundation is currently funding 26 research projects into the prevention, detection and treatment of meningitis and septicaemia. The Foundation has spent £16 million on research since its inception in 1989
  • Meningitis Research Foundation operates a freefone 24 hour helpline – 080 8800 3344 – providing information on meningitis and septicaemia to the general public and health professionals
  • Information on meningitis and septicaemia is also available on the Foundation’s world-renowned website in 22 languages. An interpretation service in 150 languages is available through the 24-hour helpline
  • The Foundation offers support for those affected by meningitis and septicaemia. Trained helpline staff are available 365 days a year. A befriender service links people with experience of meningitis and septicaemia to share their experiences and counsel each other

For further information please contact Leah Whiting on 01454 280416/ or Harpinder Collacott 01454 280406 / Out of office hours 07711 057875

Sam Williams
Media Relations Manager

Hi, I’m Sam and I’m MRF's PR Manager.

If you want to know more about this story call me on 0333 405 626251, out of office hours on 07875 498047 or email me