The Student Health Centre at the University of South Wales announced Tuesday that a freshman student living in halls of residence at Treforest has been confirmed positive for meningococcal meningitis/septicemia.
The unnamed first year student was admitted to the hospital on Sep. 28.
Public Health Wales are arranging issue of antibiotics to all those who have had such contact with the student concerned. The purpose of providing antibiotics is to clear the nose and throat of any bacteria which individuals may be carrying and interrupt any possible transmission.
Meningococcal meningitis is caused by the bacterium, Neisseria meningitidis, which causes the most severe form of bacterial meningitis. Meningitis is an infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It can also be found in the bloodstream. This particular type of meningitis is very severe and can result in death if not treated promptly. Even in cases where treatment has been given, the fatality rate is around 15%.
The symptoms of bacterial meningitis are sudden, with fever, stiff neck, body aches and headaches. As the disease progresses other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, photophobia and seizures. A petechial rash seen on the trunk and lower extremities, bleeding complications, multi-organ failures and shock are usually final signs. This disease has the ability to kill within hours of getting it.
Up to 10-20% of older children and young adults carry this organism inthe mouth and nose, though the carriage rate will vary with age and closeness of population. The majority of people that carry this bacterium have no clinical disease. The organism is spread person to person through respiratory secretions from the nose and mouth (coughing, sneezing and kissing). Experts are unsure why some people advance to meningitis disease while many do not.
Crowded living conditions facilitate the spread of the organism and places like military barracks and college dormitories are well documented areas of concern with this disease.
If feeling unwell do not hesitate to contact the University Health Centre. Fellow students or staff should alert the University Health Centre if they have concerns about students who are unwell.
Health Minister Mark Drakeford recently announced new vaccines to protect against different forms of meningitis would be offered to all students under 25 who are university for the first time this autumn.