The University of Surrey has announced it is launching a vaccination programme following three cases of meningitis at the university in the last month.
One of the cases resulted in the tragic death of a first-year student while returning from a sports trip to Italy earlier this month.
The other two students have both been treated in hospital and are recovering well.
Detailed analysis of the bacteria that caused disease in two of the students confirms that the cases were due to meningococcal group B (MenB) infection.
University of Surrey Professor interview
Here is our interview with Professor Jane Powell regarding the outbreak
Government statement on outbreak
A government spokesman has said:
Following 3 confirmed cases of meningitis at the University of Surrey, PHE is arranging for full-time undergraduate students to be vaccinated against MenB.
Three cases of meningitis confirmed
The University of Surrey has launched a vaccination programme for students following three cases of meningitis at the university in the last month.
One of the cases resulted in the tragic death of a first-year student while he was returning from a sports trip to Italy in April.
The other two students have both been treated in hospital and are recovering well.
University of Surrey Students' Union president reacts to meningitis outbreak
Students’ Union President Alex Mackenzie Smith said:
University of Surrey students have experienced the very real, albeit rare consequences, meningitis can have on a close-knit community.
I have seen first-hand the feeling of loss experienced by our staff and students as a result of this devastating infection and the need for swift and effective action in response to these incidents.
As a result the Students’ Union has offered its unequivocal support to all those touched by recent events.
We will also be urging all our members who live on campus to take up the university’s plans to vaccinate those at risk.
The safety and well-being of all Surrey students will continue to be at the heart of the Union’s priorities.
Meningitis Now welcome Public Health England's approach
Steve Dayman said:
We extend our sympathy to the family and friends to those students at the University of Surrey who have been affected by meningitis and welcome the proactive and precautionary approach that Public Health England and the university is taking to minimise the risk of further infection to 4,200 students who live in university halls.
Meningitis Now founder urges students to get vaccinated
Meningitis Now executive founder Steve Dayman said:
I would urge students being offered the Men B vaccine to get vaccinated and for others, both at Surrey University and within the broader community, not to panic - meningitis remains a relatively rare disease and that it’s even more unusual to see multiple cases like this.
Should people have concerns about meningitis then should get know the signs and symptoms of the disease.
Further quotes from Dr Peter English
Dr English has reassured everyone the risk is low but wants students to check their eligibility for the vaccine with their GP.
After considering the medical evidence, we have decided to offer vaccination to around 4,300 students living in halls of residence at the university to reduce risk of further cases next term.
I would like to reassure other students, teacher, 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 student to check their eligibility for the Men ACWY vaccine with their GP. This vaccine protects against a number of different strains of meningococcal infection.
PHE consultant says risk of transmission "relatively low"
Consultant in communicable disease control, PHE South East of England, Dr Peter English:
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.
Non-students or wider Guildford population not at risk
In Public Health England’s statement they have said:
The wider population in the town and non-students who visit but do not live on the university site are not considered within the at risk group because the higher risk is associated with the lifestyle of an undergraduate student, rather than simply being on campus.
Two students with meningitis are "recovering well"
In their statement, PHE have said the two students who have meningitis are “recovering well.
The other two students are recovering well after receiving appropriate treatment
Students travelling from Italy offered antibiotics
PHE confirmed passengers who travelled with John Igboanugo were offered antibiotics.
Sadly one of the students died while travelling home from a sports club tour to Italy. Passengers from the coachi n which the student travelled were offered antibiotics as a precautionary measure.
Public Health England statement
Public Health England has released a statement regarding the situation at University of Surrey.
Public Health England (PHE) is working closely with NHS partners following three confirmed cases of meningitis among students at the University of Surrey.
University addressing student concerns
The university’s twitter account respond to one student concerned about the current situation.
Former Reigate College student warned students are at risk
Sophie Royce, who suffered from the disease and is now a charity ambassador, warned university students are at risk of contracting the disease.
The former Reigate College student said:
“Students are at a much higher risk, when they go to university they are more likely to socialise very closely at parties, clubs, lectures, fresher’s week, and meet others they wouldn’t usually meet.
“Students have mistaken their sudden illness as fresher’s flu. They go to bed and never wake up.
“It’s a scary reality and this is the main reason why students need to get vaccinated to prevent the spread but to also learn the signs and symptoms; it really could save a life.”
The following advice is from Public Health England on meningitis symptoms and support.
- Meningococcal bacteria is carried in the back of the throat of about one in 10 people at any one time, but only very rarely causes illness.
- The bacteria can cause either meningitis or septicaemia or both.
- The disease can be serious, and it is therefore important that it is dealt with very quickly, as it can be treated most effectively in the early stages.
- The signs and symptoms for meningitis are fever, vomiting, severe headache, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights, seizures, confusion, irritability, confusion, extreme sleepiness and difficulty walking.
- The signs for septicaemia are fever, vomiting, rash, bruising, rapid breathing, joint/muscle pain, cold hands and feet, confusion, irritability, extreme sleepiness and difficulty walking.
- The bacteria does not spread easily and only those who have had prolonged and close contact with the person are at a slightly greater risk of becoming ill.
- People who have not had prolonged close contact, for example classmates, friends, social acquaintances or house visitors are not at any greater risk than the rest of the population and do not need antibiotics.
- Those who have shared drinks with the person but have not had prolonged close contact also have no increased risks.
If you are in any doubt or are concerned about your health or the health of others, then call NHS 111 urgently.
Associate Dean for Medicine comment
Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Associate Dean for Medicine at the University of Surrey, said: “We appreciate that when cases of meningitis B occur there is increased concern about the potential spread, but evidence shows that meningococcal infection is not highly contagious, comparatively rare and the risk to the wider community remains very low.
“Only people who have prolonged, close contact with an ill person are at a slightly increased risk of becoming unwell.
“If anyone is in any doubt or are concerned about their health, or the health of others, please call NHS 111 urgently.”
Comment from Vice-Chancellor
Professor Max Lu, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Surrey, said: “We are greatly saddened by the death of our student, and our hearts go out to his family and friends during what continues to be a very difficult time.
“The health and wellbeing of everyone on campus is of the utmost importance. We are working closely with PHE on a targeted vaccination programme and are reassured that the risk to staff, students and visitors is still very low.”
Two other cases of meningitis confirmed
The university confirmed two other students contracted meningitis - the cases were due to meningococcal group B (MenB) infection.
Because of this the Vice-Chancellor and the executive team are working with experts from Public Health England to arrange for all full-time undergraduate students who live in halls of residence to be vaccinated against MenB.
This will involve 4,200 students - around a third of the student population.
Meningitis caused death of undergraduate student
John Igboanugo died while returning from a sports trip in Italy he was on with the university’s American football team, Surrey Stingers.
In a statement the university confirmed at the time of the death in April confirmed it was working with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the tour operator of the trip and Public Health England “to understand the full circumstances” of the death.
The statement added: “We are liaising with the family and our thoughts are with them and close friends at this distressing time. We are doing all we can to offer help and support to those affected through our well-established support services on campus.”
Voluntary MeningitisB programme
The programme has been launched on a voluntary basis to 4,200 undergraduate students living on campus at the University of Surrey.
Vaccination programme to begin after outbreak of meningitis
University of Surrey have announced they will be launching a vaccination programme following three cases of meningitis at the university in the last month.
One of the cases was the tragic death of a first-year student who died while returning from a sports trip to Italy earlier this month. The other two students have both been treated in hospital and are recovering well.