With the new academic year beginning for almost 2 million students, government health officials have decided to offer a sobering, but they say vital, warning about the connection between the campus lifestyle and increased outbreaks of meningitis. Students, alongside children, are in the highest risk category to contract meningitis as well as other bacterial and viral illnesses owing to their lifestyle of collective living and clubbing.
The Health Protection Agency is set to publish an advisory leaflet to students highlighting the dangers of living the ‘typical student lifestyle’ of excessive drinking, sexual activity and the crowded conditions of night clubs and student accommodation. The leaflet will contain details of the symptoms of meningitis as well as advice on how best to avoid contracting the illness.
Dr. Mary Ramsay, head of the Health Protection Agency’s Immunisation Department spoke of how “university bars and campuses, where lots of students are in close proximity, is an ideal place for bacteria and viruses to spread” and suggested that this could result in further outbreaks of the illness.
Meningitis takes the form of a bacterium or a virus that can irreparably damage the sufferer and in a small number of cases lead to death or severe after effects, such as brain damage or loss of limbs and scarring.
Students of Royal Holloway and other London universities must also take note that the capital provides equally congested conditions that breed the meningitis sickness. However, despite the governments warnings and the severity of the illness it must be noted that only 8,000 people a year are affected by bacterial meningitis (according to the charity Meningitis UK).
Dr. Ramsay urged students to ensure that they keep up-to-date with vaccinations such as the MMR and MenC jabs to guarantee a safer campus lifestyle.