New confirmed case of meningitis at Exeter University
Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) has learned of an additional confirmed case of meningococcal infection, within a 28-day period, at the University of Exeter in addition to two previously reported cases this term.
In previous cases the two individuals had no direct contact with each other and there is no evidence of a link between either of the previous cases and this third case.
Meningococcal infection is the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in this age group and it can also cause septicaemia.
Three students at the University of Exeter have now been diagnosed with meningitis since mid-October. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has taken action to reduce the risk of further cases and extended surveillance of incidences over a three-month period will continue to monitor the situation. Targeted communications to students will be sent out about vaccines, signs and symptoms, and local alert and out of hours services information.
University students are one of the highest-risk groups for contracting meningitis, partly due to frequent indoor mingling with large groups of people. Symptoms vary considerably between individuals, and early signs can be mistaken for a hangover, the flu, or even COVID-19. Additionally, the winter period is when we typically see a rise in cases of meningitis in the UK. This did not happen in 2020 due to social distancing restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but the prevalence of meningitis this winter is difficult to predict.
The MenACWY vaccine, which provides excellent protection against some types of meningitis prevalent in this age group, is available for free to students under age 25 who have not already been vaccinated. However, there are many different causes of meningitis, and no single vaccine can prevent every cause. Even if a person has been vaccinated against certain causes of meningitis, they could still become ill due to another cause.
MRF urges everyone who is eligible to make sure they've had the vaccine. It's important for all university staff and students to be aware of the symptoms, and to seek medical help as soon as possible if they suspect meningitis in themselves or in someone else. Our Support Service is available on 080 8800 3344 / firstname.lastname@example.org / via live chat on our website for anyone with queries and concerns.
The individuals affected are in our thoughts here at MRF, as are their friends and families. We are here for anyone who needs support