University Students Most at Risk of Deadly Men C Virus Public Health England Warns

Published on by Darcey Haynes (author), Sylvia Kusnierz (writer)

Public Health England (PHE) are urging all new university students to get vaccinated against the deadly meningococcal disease.

The appeal comes after the latest PHE figures showed that less than a third of all young people leaving school last summer had been immunised.

There has been a vast increase in cases of Men W, year-on-year, with cases increasing from 22 in 2009/10, to 210 cases in 2015/16.

The total number of related deaths has also risen, with one in eight people with Men W dying from the infection.

First year university students are at a higher risk of contracting meningococcal disease, as they mix closely with large numbers of people. Some may unknowingly be carrying the bacteria, without any symptoms, enabling it to spread.

 

Public Health England (PHE) urges students to get vaccinated against deadly men c disease

Public Health England (PHE) urges students to get vaccinated against deadly men c disease

 A vaccination programme was introduced by PHE in 2015 in order to tackle a sharp increase in a particularly virulent strain of Men W that poses a high risk for new students. Although the appeal is aimed at first year students, second year students who missed their vaccination last year are eligible for immunisation.

Meningococcal disease can develop suddenly, usually as meningitis or septicaemia. Early symptoms include severe diarrhoea and vomiting, muscle pain, fever, and cold hands and feet. The disease can kill or leave people with life-changing disabilities, such as hearing loss, brain damage or the loss of a limb.

The vaccine, which also provides protection against other types of the disease, not only protects those vaccinated, but will help control the spread of the disease in the wider population.

Many universities have already taken measures to address the issue, with good results. Nottingham University found that 31% of their students were vaccinated before arrival at university, but following a campus-based vaccination, this rose to 71%.

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