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Students putting lives at risk over meningitis signs

By Lisa Smyth

A quarter of students wrongly believe a rash is always present in meningitis putting lives at risk, new research has found.

As students prepare to return to university this week, new research from national charity the Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) has found that many lack specific knowledge and awareness of the deadly infections.

Almost 70% of students in Belfast do not know whether they have been vaccinated against meningitis and 25% wrongly believe a rash is present in all cases of meningitis.

Early diagnosis of meningitis can save lives and reduce the severity of any subsequent medical complications, such as hearing difficulties, so the shocking lack of knowledge among Northern Ireland students is putting lives at risk.

MRF conducted a survey on over 1,000 students aged between 17 and 24 to find out just how much they really know about the devastating disease.

The charity is currently funding 26 research projects into the prevention, detection and treatment of meningitis and septicaemia — the blood poisoning form of the disease — yet 50% of students in Belfast had never heard of septicaemia.

Stephanie Annett (21), a pharmacy student at Queen’s University, was diagnosed with meningitis when she was 16.

She said: “I can’t smell now and I have problems with my hearing. I’m lucky because I don’t have some of the more serious side-effects. It’s really important for people to know the symptoms.”

Further information can be found by ringing 080 8800 3344 or by logging onto www.meningitis.org.

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