University students can be more vulnerable to infections because they live together in close social contact in halls of residence or communal housing. Students often come together from all over the world to live in one place, and so can be exposed to bacteria and viruses they have not come across before.
We've described some infections that are common amongst students here.
(With thanks to Meningitis Now)
Meningitis and associated septicaemia are rare, but are very serious conditions that you need to be alert to and to take action straight away if you, or anyone else, are showing signs and symptoms.
What is meningitis?
Meningitis is the inflammation of the meninges, which protect and surround the brain and spinal cord. It is caused by a number of viruses and bacteria. Whilst it can affect anyone at any time, there are particular risk factors that increase the possibility of meningitis in students - especially those in their first year.
The Men ACWY vaccine
It protects against disease caused by four of the main groups of meningoccal bacteria - A, C, W and Y. The vaccine is offered to first year university students under the age of 25 - your GP can advise on eligibility. It is advisable to get this at least two weeks before arrival at university. Remember, no vaccine will offer complete protection from meningitis so vigilance is vital.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Knowing the signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia, remaining vigilant and getting medical help quickly can save lives.
Meningitis symptoms can appear in any order and some may not appear at all. Early signs of meningitis can include:
- muscle pain
- stomach cramps
- fever with cold hands and feet
Each resident in halls will receive a signs and symptoms card in their room welcome pack and all students can pick one up from Student Advisory & Wellbeing in Founder's Building. You can also download a card from the Meningitis Now website. The university is proud to hold a Meningitis Aware Recognition Mark.
Colds and flu (influenza)
Outbreaks of flu tend to peak during the autumn and winter. The symptoms are extremely high fever, aches and pains in the joints, headaches, loss of appetite and general weakness necessitating enforced bed rest. Many people think they have flu when they either have a bad cold or a flu-like illness which are characterised by only a low grade fever and the ability to carry on with every day life. If you catch the flu, the general treatment is plenty of fluids and rest. You can also take painkillers such as paracetemol to help manage the symptoms.
The flu vaccine: We offer registered patients with certain underlying medical conditions (like asthma or diabetes) an influence vaccine in mid to late October. The vaccine protects against the flu virus but doesn't prevent other colds or sore throats and so on. We don't recommend the flu vaccine for otherwise healthy people.