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Monday, 24 September, 2001, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
Meningitis warning on beer mats
vaccine for Meningitis C
A vaccine against Meningitis C has proved successful
Thousands of beer mats and posters alerting students to the early symptoms of meningitis are being sent to bars and universities across the UK.

The Meningitis Trust hopes its initiative will help students diagnose the disease before it is too late.


It is vital students are aware of the signs and symptoms of this disease which can take hold within hours

Philip Kirby, Meningitis Trust
The trust is using phrases such as "Not tonight", "Do you want me to kiss it better?" and "I like it better with the lights off" to flag up symptoms of severe headaches, joint pain and a dislike of bright light respectively.

Meningitis - inflammation of the brain lining - can be fatal in hours yet its early symptoms resemble conditions like flu and colds.

The B and C strain of the virus are the most common infectious cause of death in children and young people up to the age of 20.

The disease kills over 200 people each year and despite the success of the C strain vaccination programme, there is still no protection against meningitis B which accounts for about 60% of cases in the UK.

Students vulnerable

Chief executive of the Meningitis Trust, Philip Kirby, said: "One in four students are carriers of the meningococcal bacteria at the back of their throats, compared to one in ten in the rest of the population."


I was lucky to make a full recovery but if I'd known the symptoms I could have got help much more quickly

Richard Cuthbert, former student sufferer
"No one really knows why this is, but exposure to germs from all over the country, shared living arrangements and lots of social and intimate interactions, all add up to increased risk.

"It is vital students are aware of the signs and symptoms of this disease which can take hold within hours," he warned.

Richard Cuthbert, who was a university student when he contracted meningitis, said he did not know what the signs and symptoms of meningitis were and thought he had flu.

"I started vomiting, feeling dizzy and had severe headaches. The next thing I remember I was waking up in hospital.

"I had fallen unconscious in my student house and one of my house mates found me. Even in hospital my chances were still 50/50.

"I was lucky to make a full recovery but if I'd known the symptoms I could have got help much more quickly," said Richard.

The trust is sending 100,000 beer mats to 700 colleges and universities.

See also:

03 Sep 00 | Health
Meningitis cut by 85%
03 Jan 01 | Health
Q&A: Meningitis vaccine success
31 Jan 00 | Health
The meningitis files
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