Meningitis is an inflammation (swelling) of the lining of the brain. It can be caused by viruses or bacteria. Meningitis is rare and does
not spread easily from person to person. The bacteria which cause meningitis and meningococcal disease are spread by coughing, sneezing or direct
contact such as kissing, but they die rapidly outside the body so there is little risk unless you have had very close contact with an infected person.
However, the disease can develop very rapidly, sometimes within a matter of hours. The biggest problem is that most of the early symptoms are
mild and similar to those you get with flu or hangover.
Joint or muscle pains
Dislike of bright lights
Fine rash which does not disappear when pressed with a glass
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, get medical help immediately. Do not wait until the following day. Around one
in ten cases are fatal, and people with meningitis can become seriously ill very quickly. Early treatment saves lives and can reduce the long-term
impact of the illness.
Please let the University know as soon as you have a diagnosis so they are able to take the appropriate actions.
In an emergency
If you need to see a doctor urgently out of surgery hours or at weekends or vacation time, please contact the practice or see
our emergency information.
If you have had close contact with a person diagnosed with probable bacterial meningitis, you will be offered antibiotics to minimise the risk of
becoming ill or transmitting the disease. Antibiotics are not offered for less close contacts because the risks are small and because:
the meningitis germ may become resistant to the antibiotics and so make future protection impossible
there can be side effects from taking antibiotics, which are occasionally serious
the nose and throat contain many germs which protect against infection. Antibiotics may kill all of these germs and remove this natural
protection, which may put people more at risk of developing meningococcal disease
Vaccination is not generally recommended in response to a case of meningitis as there are several different strains of meningitis and it does not
provide protection against the most common form. So, even if you have been vaccinated against Meningitis C, please seek medical help if you are
suffering from the symptoms above.