Meningitis Awareness

The germs that cause bacterial meningitis are carried in the back of the throat of about one in ten people at any one time, but rarely cause illness. Most people who carry the bacteria become immune to them. The germs do not spread easily, but can be transferred from one person to another through secretions from the nose or throat during close contact. The infection is not acquired simply by being in the same room as an infected person. As at other times, we recommend that you watch closely for symptoms in yourself, your friends and your colleagues. Early diagnosis and treatment are the best defence against this serious disease.

Symptoms include:

  • severe headache
  • high temperature/fever
  • vomiting
  • stiff neck
  • dislike of bright lights
  • pale, blotchy skin
  • drowsiness/lethargy
  • joint pains
  • cold hands and feet
  • rash of red/purple spots which looks like bruising under the skin.

Only some of these symptoms may show.

Remember that although you may well have been vaccinated against the C strain of meningitis, the vaccine does not protect against other strains of the disease. It is therefore very important to remain vigilant whether you have been vaccinated or not.

If you are worried that you may have the symptoms of bacterial meningitis, or if you think you have observed them in someone else, seek immediate medical advice from the University Medical Centre on 01202 965378. The Centre is open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, term times only. At all other times you can contact the Talbot Medical Centre on 0844 477 2416 or NHS 111. If the situation appears to be an emergency, call 999.

More information about meningitis is available from the 24-hour national help lines of the meningitis charities and NHS Direct:
Meningitis Research Foundation: 080 8800 3344. Website:
Meningitis Trust: 0800 028 1828. Website:
NHS Direct: 0845 4647. Website: