A young woman studying at university left a lecture early with similar symptoms to ‘a bad hangover’, but eventually required her legs amputated below the knee just weeks later.
Back in 2015, when Charlotte Hannibal was just 18-years-old, she became severely ill with group W meningococcal septicaemia in February that year.
As well as the amputation, Charlotte – who is now 21 – lost most of her left hand as well as the finger tips on the right.
Charlotte, who was in her first year at Nottingham Trent University when she received the diagnosis told The Mirror:
I left one of my lectures early with a sore throat, headache and tiredness; similar to having a bad hangover.
But 48 hours after my first symptoms, I was in hospital and doctors realised my body was shutting down. I spent three months in hospital.
In that time, I lost part of my hearing, dealt with kidney failure, dialysis, and had both my legs amputated below the knee, along with all my fingers from my left hand.
I’m making progress every day now, but I’m encouraging everyone starting university this year to get vaccinated so they don’t have to go through what I have.
Before they embark on university life, fresher students are being advised by leading nurses to get themselves vaccinated in order to protect themselves against meningitis.
Cases of meningitis and blood poisoning caused by a highly virulent strain of Men W bacteria have drastically increased.
There were 22 cases in England in 2009/10, but 210 cases in 2015/16 and as a result, health officials added the treatment to the national immunisation programme in august 2015.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) have warned students who are due to accept university places shortly, they have just two weeks to get vaccinated in order to be immune from meningitis in time for the start of term.
The RCN said Men W can be harder to spot due to symptoms less traditionally associated with meningitis, including diarrhoea and vomiting.
They’ve also called on health leaders to launch an urgent targeted campaign on social media platforms to reach school leavers.
Public health lead at the RCN, Helen Donovan said:
A targeted social media campaign could save lives. The low take-up is a serious concern as people starting university are particularly at risk.
Letters are not enough – it’s vital we communicate with young people using platforms they are likely to use.
Meningitis can be fatal, and can leave those who survive with life-changing disabilities.
Vaccination is quick, easy and free, and offers protection against most strains of the disease, but reaching young people is not easy.
We are urging people to contact their surgeries now and book an appointment with the practice nurse.
Public Health England say they’ve already launched 2017’s campaign to encourage uptake for the vaccine, which includes messages across social media.
Head of immunisation at Public Health England, Dr Mary Ramsay said:
The Men ACWY vaccination programme will save lives and prevent lifelong and devastating disability.
We have seen a rapid increase in Men W cases across England in recent years and vaccination is the most effective way of protecting against infection.
Young people are particularly at risk from the Men W strain – being in confined environments with close contact, such as university halls or lecture theatres, increases the chances of infection if unprotected.
We urge anyone who is eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Remain vigilant and seek urgent medical help if you think someone may be showing signs of infection.
If you’re off to university this September make an inquiry about the vaccination with your GP as soon as possible.