By Suvi Loponen
All students across the UK are urged to get the meningitis vaccine Men ACWY to avoid catching the possibly fatal infection.
Meningitis, the infection of the tissue surrounding the brain and spinal cord can in one in 10 cases lead to death. It can be caught by anyone and about but babies and young people are main the two risk groups.
GPs are calling in young people up to the age of 25 for vaccination and universities have also been asked to get students who have not been vaccinated at home to get the shot in their study place.
Meningococcal bacteria live in the back of the nose and throat in about 1 in 10 of the population without causing any illness. The bacteria is spread from person to person by close contact with a person carrying the bacteria, such as coughing, kissing and sneezing.
New students are especially at a high risk, because they often mingle with a lot of new people, some of whom might carry the bacteria unknowingly.
Even though the cases of bacterial meningitis have halved in the last quarter of a century, new cases still appear every day and over 3000 people suffer from it in the UK yearly. In 2009 22 people got the strand W meningitis, whilst within the last year there has been over 200 cases.
This is due to a particularly aggressive strain – the meningitis W bacteria. Almost quarter of the cases are caused by the meningitis W, while other strains are getting less common. The new vaccine which was introduced last year protects against four strains of the bacterial infection: A, C, Y and W.
All meningococcal bacteria can cause meningitis and septicaemia, but meningitis W can also cause other illnesses such as pneumonia and joint infections. The early symptoms are headaches, vomiting, muscle pain, fever and cold hands and feet.
In early September a young Glaswegian girl died from meningitis which led to her falling into a coma in less than 24 hours,
From 2015 onwards the vaccine has been given out for younger teenagers at schools across the UK and the goal is to ensure teenagers are offered the vaccine before leaving school.document.currentScript.parentNode.insertBefore(s, document.currentScript);