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Darwen GP reminding university freshers to protect themselves against killer disease

Darwen GP reminding university freshers to protect themselves against killer disease

As the new academic year starts and university freshers are preparing themselves for their first term, a leading doctor in Blackburn with Darwen is reminding all young adults under the age of 24 the importance of immunisation against meningitis and septicaemia.

The call comes as Public Health England begins a new vaccination programme specifically aimed at first time university entrants.

Dr Chris Clayton, a Darwen GP and Clinical Chief Officer at NHS Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group, explains why he is supporting the programme and the reasons why it is so important.

“Meningitis and septicaemia (meningococcal group C bacteria) are very serious diseases and require urgent attention.  It’s really important people know the signs and symptoms.  Meningococcal can reach a peak around the age of 19 and that is why it is so important for young people about to start university, where they will be mixing with lots of new people who may unknowingly be carrying the bacteria, to be vaccinated.

“I’d advise any student going to university or college for the first time, including mature students up to the age of 25, to contact their GP to have the Men ACWY vaccine, ideally before the start of term. The highest risk of meningitis is in the first year of university, particularly the first few months.

“With early diagnosis and antibiotic treatment, most people with meningococcal disease make a full recovery.  However, it can be fatal in about 10% of cases and it can also lead to long-term health problems, such as amputation, deafness, epilepsy and learning difficulties.”

Symptoms include:

  • Fever, cold hands and feet
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness, difficult to wake up
  • Irritability and/or confusion
  • Dislike of bright lights
  • Severe headache or muscle pains
  • Pale, blotchy skin with or without a rash
  • Stiff neck
  • Convulsions/seizures

Septicaemia (sepsis) occurs when the body’s immune system goes into overdrive, setting off a series of reactions including widespread inflammation, swelling and blood clotting. If not treated quickly, sepsis can eventually lead to multiple organ failure and death.

Someone with sepsis may develop a few spots or a widespread rash that doesn’t fade under pressure.  If the spots don’t fade under pressure, you need to get medical help immediately by calling 999 or getting someone to take you to the nearest hospital emergency department. Never wait for a rash. It can be a late sign or may not appear at all. If someone is ill and getting worse get medical help immediately.

Further information can be found at http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vaccinations/Pages/men-acwy-vaccine.aspx