PARENTS of young people heading off to university this autumn are being urged to help keep them safe from meningitis.

The charity Meningitis Now is calling on mums and dads to ensure their children have been vaccinated against Men ACWY and that they know the signs and symptoms of the disease and what to do if they suspect it.

Public Health England reported that there were 747 cases of meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia in England last year, with 18 per cent of cases occurring in young adults aged 15 to 24.

Of those who contract bacterial meningitis, one in ten will die and one in three survivors will be left with life-changing after-effects.

Dr Tom Nutt, chief executive of Meningitis Now, said: “Teenagers are the second most at risk group of contracting meningitis after babies and toddlers - and up to a quarter of students carry the bacteria that can cause meningitis, compared to one in ten of the general population.”

The early signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia can be similar to flu, tummy bug or a hangover and include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pain, stomach cramps and fever with cold hands and feet.

More specific signs and symptoms include fever with cold hands and feet, drowsiness, confusion, pale blotchy skin, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights and a rash which doesn’t fade under pressure.

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