Research conducted by Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) shows a worrying 50 percent of students in Brighton and Hove do not know whether they have had their meningitis vaccinations.
The result came as Meningitis Awareness Week begun on 20 September. This year the organisers have launched a “Get the Message” campaign to ensure teenagers and young adults, especially students, know more about meningitis and its symptoms.
As the new university term begins, MRF, a national charity, fear that the close contact of living in halls could put students in greater danger of meningitis.
Young people are the group second  most at risk of getting meningitis, yet the study shows that many lack important knowledge of the disease which has different strains.
To tackle this lack of awareness, MRF have introduced a free iPhone application, Bug Blaster, now available at the iTunes store.
The app will offer emergency contact information as well as a symptoms checker of meningitis and septicaemia. It will also provide details of the user’s local A&E.
MRF’s chief executive, Chris Head, explained that “Knowing the signs and symptoms of meningitis is crucial and quick action can save lives. This app ensures people have vital life-saving information directly at their fingertips.
“The app is free and we are encouraging every iPhone, iPad and iPod touch user to download it today.”
Meningitis is particularly worrying as it comes on suddenly. The NHS choices website explains that it “can be easily confused with the flu. Many of their symptoms are the same.”
The news comes after warnings from one doctor, Malcolm Johnston that meningitis symptoms are difficult to spot. Johnston’s own son, Austin, suffered from meningitis but is now better.
The consultant radiologist from  Brighton said that he and his wife thought that Austin was suffering from diarrhoea.
For information on symptoms, contact MRF’s free 24-hour helpline on 0808 8003344 and for further details on the disease, see www.meningitis.org.

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