Bacterial meningitis will kill one in ten people who contract it. 16-24 year olds are the second highest at-risk age group to contract the disease. Of those who survive one in five are left with after effects which can include brain damage, amputation and hearing loss. Meningitis can kill the person who contracts it within 24 hours. It a serious disease and knowing the signs and symptoms could save a life.
Students are the second most at risk age group to contract meningitis. The bacteria which causes meningitis is spread through:
- Close contact
- Intimate kissing
Because of this, the risks in colleges and universities are increased due to the close proximity in which they study and live, as their social interactions with each other are increased throughout this period. Meningitis is particularly dangerous as it can present itself with similar symptoms to a hangover or flu and can develop in a very short time. Symptoms of meningitis in young adults/adults can include;
- Dislike of bright lights
- Cool limbs
- High temperature
- Stiff neck
- Becoming confused and disorientated
- Vomiting and/or diarrhoea
- Skin rash which does not fade when a glass is pressed against it*
*There is a common misconception about the rash – it is commonly misunderstood that meningitis always produces a rash. This is in fact NOT TRUE and the rash is not always present. We ask people NOT to wait for a rash if they suspect meningitis.
For some students, this year will be their first time living away from home and their parents’ watchful eye. As with most students, their health and well being is not prioritised. It is easy for the signs and symptoms to go unnoticed, or to be mistaken for something else. This is why student education around the disease is so important.
ACT for Meningitis staff visited colleges and universities all over Ireland, as part of our new annual student campaign. ACT visited campuses all over the country, setting pop-up awareness stands and handing out wristbands and awareness cards free of charge to students. The wristbands were very well received amongst students and displayed our website and the campaign slogan “Be assertive, it’s your life”. The awareness cards provided students with information on the signs and symptoms of meningitis and information surrounding the misconception of the rash.
As part of the campaign, ACT for Meningitis also launched a beermat which reads “It might not be a hangover” to supply student bars with as meningitis can present itself like a severe hangover. The beermats were launched nationally through the media, with the help of Love Hate star Peter Coonan, better known as Fran in the series. These have been distributed to student bars on and off campuses across the country, with great reception.
Be assertive, it’s your life
If you would like any more information about meningitis or would like ACT to visit your school, college, youth group etc. to hold an awareness talk. Visit our website or visit our Facebook page or call our office. Also if you have been affected by meningitis and wish to avail of our free support services please do not hesitate to contact us 091-380058.