The symptoms of meningitis can be easily confused with flu, a stomach bug or a hangover.
If one of your friends is ill and getting worse, call NHS 111 or your GP straight away. In an emergency dial 999 or go to your nearest A&E.
Although meningitis can affect anyone at any time, there are certain bacteria that increase the risk of meningitis in teenagers and students. These are meningococcal A, B, C, W and Y and they can cause meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning), which can kill within hours. For those who survive, many are left with life-changing after-effects such as hearing loss, acquired brain injury and limb loss. Make sure you know how to protect yourself and look out for your friends.
Vaccines are the only way to prevent meningitis. The good news is that young people will be offered the MenACWY vaccine at around 14 years of age, in school, as part of the routine adolescent programme. Check that you've had the vaccination, and if you haven't, contact your GP straight away. Please be aware if you live outside Scotland, but are attending university in Scotland, you need to get the MenACWY vaccine before you go. You will not automatically be able to get it from the GP surgery when you get there.
The MenACWY vaccine does not offer protection against all types of meningitis, and in particular MenB, the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in the UK. So, it's really important to familiarise yourself with the signs and symptoms. Identifying meningitis is not always easy. Early symptoms can be missed or mistaken for flu, a stomach bug or a hangover - especially at the start of term when so many students are suffering from freshers' flu.
It's also really important to look out for each other. Someone with meningitis or septicaemia can get a lot worse very quickly and may not be able to get the emergency help they need themselves. If a friend is unwell, check up on them regularly.
We have some great materials that can help raise awareness on your campus, including beer mats and wall planners. Order awareness materials.