Officials with the University of Surrey in Guildford, Surrey, United Kingdom report at least three confirmed cases of meningitis associated with undergraduate students at the school since the end of March 2017.

Meningitis symptoms/Public domain image/Mikael Häggström
Meningitis symptoms/Public domain image/Mikael Häggström

Sadly, one of the students died while returning from a sports trip to Italy. Passengers from the coach in which the student travelled were offered antibiotics as a precautionary measure.

The school says the other two students have been treated and are recovering.

Laboratory testing has revealed meningococcal group B (MenB) in two of the students.

Public Health England (PHE) has decided to vaccinate full-time undergraduate students living in halls of residence against MenB. The evidence shows that the highest risk is to undergraduate students who live in halls of residence.

Dr Peter English, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control, PHE South East of England said:

Meningococcal infection is comparatively rare and the risk of transmission is relatively low. People who have prolonged, close contact with an ill person are at a slightly increased risk of becoming unwell in the following days. This is why immediate contacts of the cases have already been offered antibiotics as a precautionary measure.

After considering the medical evidence, we have decided to offer vaccination to around 4,200 students living in halls of residence at the university to reduce risk of further cases next term.

I would like to reassure other students, teachers, their families and the local community that the risk of catching this infection remains very low, and any higher risk is confined to those being offered the vaccine.

I would still urge everyone to be aware of the symptoms of both meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning).

I would also remind students to check their eligibility for the MenACWY vaccine with their GP. This vaccine protects against a number of different strains of meningococcal infection.