HEALTH officials have arranged antibiotics for people who came into close contact with a New College student who is recovering from bacterial meningitis.

Public Health England (PHE) has been working with the college after the 17-year-old student was admitted to Great Western Hospital on Saturday, where he is receiving treatment for the illness.

PHE’s Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Centre has been working to identify close contacts in a bid to prevent further spread of the infection.

Dr Bharat Pankhania, consultant in communicable disease control for the PHE’s Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Centre, said: “We understand that there will be concern among students, staff and parents following this case, and we are following national guidelines in implementing control measures such as eliminating carriage in close contacts in order to reduce spread of infection.

“The best advice remains for everyone to be aware of and alert to the signs and symptoms of meningococcal infection, especially students and their parents.”

He said anyone who feels unusually unwell in the next 14 days or so should contact their GP.

Amanda Walton, head of marketing and customer services at New College, said: “New College Swindon was informed this morning that a current student has been diagnosed with bacterial meningitis.

“Public Health England has been in touch with us and we are taking advice and are following their guidance.

“This week is Meningitis Awareness Week and the college already had information about this disease on display.

“We will continue to raise awareness around the college to ensure students know what symptoms to look out for and what to do in case they are unwell.

“There are two on-site nurses available to offer advice and guidance to anyone who is concerned and we will update our students accordingly if there are additional actions to take.

“The student is recovering, is well and we wish them all the best for a speedy recovery.”


Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord.
There are around 3,200 cases of meningitis and septicaemia every year in the UK.

Anyone can get meningitis, but babies and young children under five years of age are most at risk. A baby or young child with meningitis may:
• have a high fever, with cold hands and feet
• vomit and refuse to feed
• feel agitated and not want to be picked up
• become drowsy, floppy and unresponsive
• grunt or breathe rapidly
• have an unusual high-pitched or moaning cry
• have pale, blotchy skin, and a red rash that doesn't fade when a glass is rolled over it
• have a tense, bulging soft spot on their head (fontanelle)
• have a stiff neck and dislike bright lights
• have convulsions or seizures

The symptoms can appear in any order, and some may not appear at all.
In older children, teenagers and adults, the symptoms of meningitis can include:
• a fever, with cold hands and feet
• vomiting
• drowsiness and difficulty waking up
• confusion and irritability
• severe muscle pain
• pale, blotchy skin, and a distinctive rash (although not everyone will have this)
• a severe headache
• stiff neck
• sensitivity to light (photophobia)
• convulsion or seizures

There are two types of meningitis:
• bacterial meningitis – caused by bacteria such as Neisseria meningitidis or Streptococcus pneumoniae and through close contact. Bacterial meningitis is very serious and should be treated as a medical emergency. If the bacterial infection is left untreated, it can cause severe brain damage and infect the blood (septicaemia).
• viral meningitis – caused by viruses that can be spread through coughing, sneezing and poor hygiene. It is the most common, and less serious, type of meningitis. It's difficult to estimate the number of viral meningitis cases, because symptoms are often so mild that they're mistaken for flu.

Diagnosing meningitis can be difficult because it often comes on quickly and can be easily mistaken for flu, as many of the symptoms are the same.

The best way to prevent meningitis is by ensuring vaccinations are up-to-date. Children in the UK should receive the available vaccines as part of the childhood vaccination programme.

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