National charity, Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) has issued an appeal to college students in Ireland to be aware of the signs and symptoms of viral meningitis following two cases in different colleges during October.
Viral meningitis is thought to be more common than bacterial meningitis with 223 cases in Ireland so far this year.
Unlike bacterial meningitis, viral meningitis is almost never life threatening however it is very unpleasant and can have long-lasting after-effects such as severe headaches, extreme tiredness, loss of hearing, depression and memory loss. A proportion of people have recurrent bouts of viral meningitis every few months which can reduce their quality of life and ability to work.
MRF is encouraging students to familiarise themselves with information on how to spot symptoms as many cases of viral meningitis are mistaken for more common illnesses like flu. Symptoms include: fever, vomiting, severe headache, stiff neck*, dislike of bright lights*, and rash. Sometimes the disease progresses with further symptoms such as being sleepy/vacant/difficult to wake, confused/delirious, or having seizures (fits). (*Unusual in young children.)
Andy Cochrane, Medical Information Officer at MRF said: “Most cases of viral meningitis are relatively mild and those affected recover without medical treatment. Although most people recover within five days to a fortnight, it may take more time, and for some people the recovery period is prolonged. Antibiotics are ineffective against viruses, so treatment is normally limited to easing the symptoms of the disease. Students may find it difficult to return to college life so we strongly encourage them to talk to their tutors, keep them in the loop and make sure they get the support they need and the time required for recovery.”
If you have been affected by Meningitis or would like further information please contact Meningitis Research Foundation on 01-8196931 or visit www.meningitis.org