Meningitis scare on campus as first year student hospitalised

Michael Wynd

A first year Alcuin College student was rushed to York District Hospital in the early hours of Tuesday, November 6, after contracting meningitis.

Management Studies student Michael Wynd called himself an ambulance after developing a full-body rash, a splitting headache and an intolerance to bright light.

It is still unclear how Wynd contracted the disease, however recovering in hospital he said: “It’s a messy disease. I felt awful, but I was so lucky”. He was discharged after spending just over a week in hospital.

To stop the virus spreading, all those that had been in close contact with Wynd have been put on antibiotics and some were vaccinated. His flatmates were warned to stay vigilant and advised to look closely for any of the same symptoms. Wynd’s case appears to be the only one on campus.

Wynd’s symptoms started two days before he was admitted into hospital, when he developed a severe fever. It was then that a rash, which didn’t disappear after pressure was applied, appeared all over his body.

“The scary thing is that he spent early Monday evening sitting on my bed saying he felt better, joking he’d be fine by Thursday,” said one flatmate.

YUSU Academic and Welfare Officer, Grace Fletcher-Hall said: “This is the first case we’ve had in two or three years. It’s very rare anything like this happens so I don’t want people getting scared about it. They should just be so careful. Meningitis is a very scary illness. If you have any symptoms please, please get checked out”.

Alcuin Vice-Chair Roshni Mehta, who deals with Welfare and Support, said “As soon as the college was aware of the situation, we acted very quickly to ensure it was just that one case.” Tony Ward, the Provost, was brilliant throughout it all and has been in contact with the student from the start.”

Meningitis involves an inflammation of the mem- branes that surround and give protection to the brain and spinal cord, with the most common causes of meningitis being viruses and bacteria.

The meningococcal septicaemia bacteria that causes meningitis B, creates flu-like symptoms that can often be mistaken for a bad hangover or a nasty cold.

Symptoms include severe headache, fever, muscle pains, intense vomiting, cold hands and feet, a rash that doesn’t disappear if you press it and an aversion to light.

Students are the second highest risk group for meningitis, with up to 25% of students carrying the bacteria that causes the disease. Living together in halls of residence with increased levels of promiscuity especially during Freshers’ Week heightens the risk of contracting the disease.

There are several different types of meningitis and although most students have already been vaccinated against meningitis C, there is no way of preventing infection by meningitis B the most common bacterial form.

The majority of people with meningococcal septicaemia develop a rash of tiny ‘pin prick’ spots which can quickly develop into purple bruising.

To identify the rash, press a tumbler up against it and if it does not disappear you may have developed the illness. The spots or rash are more difficult to see on darker skin, thus it is advised to look on paler areas of the skin and under the eyelids.

The University of York’s Health Centre warns “In the early stages signs and symptoms can be similar to many other more common illnesses. Trust your instincts – if you suspect meningitis or sceptacaemia, get some medical help immediately.”

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