Freshers flu could be meningitis and septicaemia

The symptoms are similar to freshers flu

Health experts have warned this year’s freshers are at a high risk to meningitis and septicaemia and have launched a new free vaccination programme to help protect those at risk.

Twenty-five per cent of young people unknowingly carry the meningococcal bacteria in their throat or nose without suffering the disease themselves.

The disease can be transmitted through kissing or even sharing a cigarette, and it can be fatal.

Its hangover-like symptoms include fever, vomiting, headache, a stiff neck, sensitivity to light, drowsiness, and muscle and leg pain.

For more information about the new Men ACWY vaccination, please visit nhs.uk/menacwy

Amy Davies, now 23, contracted meningitis when she was 18

The impacts of the disease are devastating and survivors of meningitis and septicaemia are often left with devastating long-term health impacts.

These impacts include deafness, brain damage, learning difficulties, seizures, difficulties with physical activities, and when septicaemia is involved, loss of limbs.

Cases of a highly aggressive form of meningitis, Men W, have been increasing since 2008 with cases doubling year on year in recent years, prompting the launch of the new vaccination program to combat the growth of the disease.

Public Health England is encouraging freshers to ensure that getting vaccinated with the Men ACWY vaccine is part of their pre-uni preparation.

The Men ACWY vaccine not only protects against diseases that cause meningitis and septicaemia, but also from carrying and passing on the meningococcal bacteria to others.

For more information about the new Men ACWY vaccination, please visit nhs.uk/menacwy
Amy Davies spoke to TV presenter, Stacey Dooley, about her experiences of meningitis

Amy spoke to TV presenter, Stacey Dooley, about her experiences of meningitis

To raise awareness about the disease and the new vaccination programme, as part of the new Public Health England campaign, TV presenter and investigative journalist, Stacey Dooley, interviewed meningitis survivor, Amy Davies, 23, who contracted the disease when she was just 18 to find out how the disease has impacted her life.

Amy contracted a severe form of meningitis and septicaemia and was told by doctors she had only a 10 per cent chance of survival.

Amy was rushed to hospital as soon as her mum recognised the symptoms, where she was soon put into an induced coma for two weeks.

During this time Amy’s Mum and Dad watched on as their daughter’s legs and arms turned black as septicaemia took hold of her body.

After time in intensive care and a rehabilitation unit Amy underwent several operations to remove her toes and part of her foot. The following year she required surgery to have her lower leg amputated.

For more information about the new Men ACWY vaccination, please visit nhs.uk/menacwy
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Amy is now encouraging students to take up the offer of the free MenACWY vaccination

Amy said: “I was a normal 18-year-old, but the moment I contracted the disease my life was turned upside down.

“It is a terrible disease that has impacted my whole life, particularly as I’ve had to adjust to having my lower left leg amputated, and it robbed me of some important years of my youth, when I should have been out having fun, rather than undergoing months of incredibly traumatic treatment.”

Media Medic and host of The Surgery on Radio 1, Dr Rahda, said:

“Starting university, or a new phase of life, is an incredibly exciting time, and so young people will have many plans and things to distract them from thinking about their health.

“They might not be aware, but those off to university are at a particularly high risk of contracting meningococcal disease due to meeting and mixing with lots of new people, and so this vaccination is one health decision that I would not want those eligible to put off.

“The effects of meningitis and septicaemia can be truly devastating and sometimes even fatal, and can ruin what should be the most exciting years of their lives.”

The vaccination is being offered to all 18-year-olds, regardless of their future plans of attending university.

New university students and 18-year-olds should take up the offer of the free Men ACWY vaccination when contacted by their doctor.

For more information about the new Men ACWY vaccination, please visit nhs.uk/menacwy
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