Don’t confuse meningitis with a bad hangover, charity boss warns

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STUDENTS are being urged to spot the signs of deadly brain bug meningitis – and not to confuse the symptoms with a hangover or ‘freshers’ flu’.

Charity Meningitis UK is appealing to students to ensure they are up to date with their meningitis vaccinations and to book an appointment with their doctor if they are not.

Students up to the age of 24 are the second most at-risk group from the killer brain bug. The charity says the symptoms may be confused with the phenomenon dubbed freshers’ flu, which sees up to 90 per cent of new students fall ill with fever, sore throat and headaches during the first few weeks of term because they are vulnerable to germs they had not previously encountered.

Steve Dayman, Meningitis UK’s chief executive, said: ‘We’ve come across tragic cases where students have gone to bed to sleep off a hangover, and have later been found either dangerously ill or dead in the morning. Remember that meningitis can kill in under four hours.

‘I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to tell someone if you’re feeling rough and to be aware of the symptoms of meningitis.

‘And, if you notice a friend’s under the weather, stick around to make sure their condition doesn’t deteriorate. If it does, seek urgent medical help.

‘I encourage students to take the five minutes to check they’re up to date with their meningitis vaccinations as this could save their life.

‘People’s immune systems may well be weakened as freshers’ flu spreads. This, coupled with lack of sleep, stress, the colder weather and poor diet, means the first few months of university are a key time for people to be alert.’