Meningitis is an inflammation (swelling) of the lining of the brain. It can be caused by viruses or bacteria. It can also cause septicaemia (blood poisoning).
Information on its symptoms can be found on the NHS website.
The bacteria which cause meningitis are spread by coughing, sneezing or direct contact such as sharing a drinking glass, or kissing.
Outbreaks are more likely to occur in places where people live or work closely together in large groups.
The important thing to know is that the disease can develop very rapidly, sometimes within a matter of hours.
If any of the following symptoms develop get medical help urgently – meningitis can kill and early treatment saves lives:
- severe dislike of light
- a bruise-like rash that doesn't fade under pressure
- or marked drowsiness or coma
Recent guidelines encourage new university entrants up to 25 years old to have a MenACWY vaccine prior to enrolment.
Men ACWY vaccine has been introduced to the national immunisation programme as a response to a rapid and accelerating increase in cases of invasive group W (Men W) disease. It replaces Men C vaccine.
The diseases are rare but can be extremely dangerous, resulting in deafness, blindness, paralysis, loss of arms or legs, and even death.
However, if the symptoms are noticed and treatment (with antibiotics) is given quickly, people can recover fully.