Meningitis information

Meningococcal meningitis (causing meningococcal septicaemia) is a rare but serious disease, affecting about 150 - 200 people in Scotland each year. Immediate treatment is needed. Be aware of the symptoms and look out for one another. It is strongly recommended that you are vaccinated before you start on your course.

Key early signs

If you have more than one of these symptoms you should see a doctor immediately and not wait for the characteristic rash to appear.

These may not all appear at once, however, in meningococcal disease, the illness can get worse very rapidly. An early diagnosis is crucial as the disease can be fatal within hours.

  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Dislike of bright lights
  • Other symptoms such as vomiting, drowsiness, joint pain and fever may also be present.

ANY of the signs below in an ill student is an indication that medical help must be summoned as a matter of utmost urgency. If a doctor is not immediately available, call an ambulance or take the student to the nearest Accident & Emergency department.

  • A rash, which starts as red or purple spots anywhere on the body and which does not fade when pressed with a glass (due to bleeding under the skin, a sympton of septicaemia or blood poisinging, this is a very useful sign)
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Severe neck stiffness
  • Very cold hands and feet, or
  • Severe and worsening headache (without other obvious cause)

You should seek medical help immediately.
The disease requires urgent and immediate treatment with antibiotics and hospital care. If your doctor is not available, go to the nearest Accident & Emergency (A&E) department.

Being aware

  • Acquaint yourself with the symptoms and signs of meningococcal disease
  • Ensure that you are registered with a general practitioner and know how to contact them
  • If you are in a hall of residence, inform the warden of the doctor's name and contact details
  • Talk to your GP about vaccination
  • Make sure your student record is always up to date with your address, especially if you are living in term time accommodation
  • Look out for each other's welfare
  • Inform someone (eg. a friend, member of staff, hall warden) if you, or another student, is feeling unwell so that you/they can be monitored and prompt medical attendtion sought if the condition deteriorates.

Further information

NHS Helpline 0800 22 44 88 24hr helpline

Meningitis Now 0800 028 1828 24hr helpline

Meningitis Research Foundation 080 8800 3344 24hr helpline

Meningitis Association Scotland 0141 226 5898