Public Health England (PHE) is working with North Bristol Hospitals Trust and the university following a case of confirmed Meningitis B in a Bristol student.
The student is currently receiving treatment and is recovering well.
The bacteria are carried in the back of the throat of about ten per cent of people but seldom cause illness. Most people who carry the bacteria become immune to them.
The bacteria are not easily spreadable and only those who have had close prolonged contact with the person, normally family members, or those sharing the same accommodation are at a slightly greater risk of getting ill.
Both the university and the PHE’s health protection team have identified close contacts of the case, students in the same accomodation blocks, and antibiotics are being arranged as a precautionary measure to reduce the risk of the illness spreading.
PHE confirm that there is no need for those not in very close contact to someone with the infection to take antibiotics. They have also provided information to remind students and staff of the signs and symptoms of meningococcal infection, which can cause meningitis and septicaemia.
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Mark Wade, Deputy Direct for Health Protection at Public Health England South West, said:
‘We understand that there will be concern among students, staff and parents following this case, and we are following national guidelines in implementing control measures such as eliminating carriage in close contacts to reduce spread of infection.
‘The best advice remains for everyone to be aware of and alert to the signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia, especially students and their parents. Early recognition of meningitis and septicaemia symptoms can greatly improve the outcome of the disease. Any student that feels unwell and displays the symptoms of meningitis or septicaemia, they should seek urgent medical advice.
‘We urge students to look out for your housemates as symptoms of meningitis and to be vigilant for anything out of character. We would also urge students to register with the Students’ Health Service and to take up the offer of the MenACWY vaccine which is available to students as part of the routine vaccination schedule for this age group.’
In an email to all students at the University, Wade stressed that ‘other people in the wider University setting are not considered to be at increased risk of developing meningococcal disease so there is currently no need to take any specific action or change the university routine for students and staff.
‘However, it is always sensible to be aware of the signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia. Not all of these signs and symptoms may show at once, but someone with this illness will become very ill. The illness may progress over one or two days, but it can develop very rapidly, sometimes in a matter of hours.’
Further advice on meningitis and an information leaflet can be obtained from the Meningitis Research Foundation 0808 800 3344 or at http://www.meningitis .org/ or Meningitis Now 0808 80 10 388 or at http://www.meningitisnow.org
Let us know if you have concerns about the illness: