University of  Sussex MEDIA RELEASE

The Information Office, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9RH.

Statement regarding meningococcal disease

13 November 1997

STUDENTS and staff at the University of Sussex are being urged to be vigilant about the symptoms of meningococcal disease following the death of a 20-year-old student this morning (13 November) at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton.

The suspected cause of death is meningococcal meningitis.

Students who were in close contact with the student who died, are being advised to go to the University Health Centre for a course of antibiotics. It is not yet known what strain of meningitis caused the disease and not all forms of the disease can be vaccinated against; when the strain is known and if it is a type for which there is a vaccine, the same students will be automatically contacted and vaccination arranged.

Dr Angela Iversen, consultant in communicable disease control, said: "Sadly a student died shortly after being admitted to hospital. The risk of another case occurring is small but staff and students should be vigilant about the symptoms, keep a close eye on anyone who is feeling unwell and seek advice from the health centre if they are at all concerned."

The University is establishing a helpline and staff are liaising closely with public health doctors and the health centre.

Students and staff can also contact the National Meningitis 24-hour support line on 0345 538118.

In addition, The Health Information Service - freephone 0800 665544 - has a taped message on meningitis (Tape 165).

- ends -

Press enquiries: Madeleine Mayhew or Andrew Partington
East Sussex, Brighton and Hove Health Authority
Tel: 01273 403550

Sue Yates
University of Sussex
Tel: Home: 01273 473463
       Office: 01273 678888

Note to news editors: The symptoms of meningococcal meningitis are: vomiting high temperature/fever/stiff neck; dislike of bright lights; drowsiness/lethargy; joint pains; rash - tiny blood spots or bruising under the skin, which can appear anywhere on the body and do not turn white when pressed.

The Information Office ~ 17th November 1997