Preventing Infectious Diseases

We are all following the current Covid-safe guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19, however there are still many infectious diseases to be aware of. Here is some information below. 

Outbreaks of vaccine-preventable infections can sometimes happen at universities because of shared living and varied friendship groups.  We work with health partners to quickly contain any infectious illness, and inform staff and students who may at risk.  This page contains the following information:

Preventing infectious diseases

There are some simple steps you can take to help keep yourself, your friends and course mates protected:

  • Ensure your vaccinations are up to date.  Some important vaccines are detailed below. You are likely to have received most of these vaccines as a child but if you are unsure consult your GP as soon as possible.
  • Be aware of the signs and symptoms of common infectious diseases.
  • If you are unwell, it is important that you seek medical advice as soon as possible.
  • Do not attend university or other social gatherings until you are feeling better and you are no longer infectious. Your doctor will advise you when.
  • Make sure you are registered with a GP (doctor) close to where you live, so you can access and receive emergency NHS care quickly and easily.
  • Wash your hands often and well.

The symptoms of common infectious diseases

Find out more about the signs and symptoms of common infectious diseases measles, mumps and rubella, meningitis, tuberculosis,  and seasonal influenza (flu).

Measles, mumps and rubella 

Measles, mumps and rubella are highly infectious viral illnesses.  Although the symptoms are usually mild, serious complications can occur.

The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is safe and effective protection against each disease. You need to have two doses of the vaccine to ensure you are immunised.  If you are unsure whether you have had two doses of MMR vaccine, book an appointment with your GP or practice nurse.

  • Mumps can cause headache, fever and swelling of the salivary glands. Complications include swelling of the ovaries or testes. The majority of cases of mumps are young people aged 15 - 24 years.  Find out more about the symptoms of mumps on the NHS website here
  • Measles can cause fever, coughing and distinctive red-brown spots on the skin. Complications include pneumonia and brain inflammation. Measles can be very serious for pregnant women and those with chronic illnesses or weakened immune systems.  Find out more about the symptoms of measles on the NHS website here
  • Rubella (German measles) can cause rash and swollen glands around the ears and the back of your head. Rubella is usually a mild infectious disease, although it can have serious consequences for the unborn children of pregnant women.  Find out more about Rubella here

If you suspect you have any of these infections:

  • contact your GP surgery 
  • avoid contact with people socially and at university 
  • let either your personal tutor or college admin team know
  • if you are in University hall of residence let your reception know

You can get further information about the MMR vaccine on the NHS website.

Meningitis

Meningitis is an illness causing inflammation of the linings of the brain and spinal cord. Viruses, bacteria and other agents can cause meningitis. This is a serious illness and needs urgent medical treatment.  You are advised to make sure you have had the Men ACWY vaccination before starting University.  If you have not had this vaccination then speak to your doctor or practice nurse.

Symptoms can develop suddenly and can include: 

  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C or above 
  • vomiting 
  • a headache
  • a stiff neck
  • a dislike of bright lights 
  • drowsiness or unresponsiveness 
  • seizures (fits)  
  • a blotchy rash that doesn't fade when a glass is rolled over it (this doesn’t always develop) 

Not all of these symptoms may be present, but if you suspect you or one of your friends has meningitis then get medical help immediately. 

Find out more about Meningitis here

Tuberculosis (TB)

Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection spread through inhaling tiny droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person.  It usually affects the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body. TB is only infectious to other people if it affects the lungs or throat.

Contact your GP if you are experiencing any of these symptoms:

  • a cough lasting more than three weeks
  • loss of weight for no obvious reason
  • fever
  • heavy night sweats
  • fatigue - a general and unusual sense of tiredness and being unwell
  • loss of appetite

If you have recently arrived in the UK, you may have received TB screening prior to your travel. Even if you were given the all clear, you must contact a doctor as soon as possible if you experience these signs and symptoms. Being diagnosed with TB or any other infectious disease will not affect your visa, and you will not be asked about your immigration status at the TB clinic.

Early diagnosis and treatment is very important to help ensure you recover quickly. TB is curable with antibiotics; these are usually taken for at least six months. 

Seasonal influenza (flu) 

Flu is a highly infectious respiratory illness caused by various flu viruses that change slightly each year. The illness spreads rapidly from person to person via droplets.

Symptoms include headache, aching muscles and joints, fever, cough, and sore throat. 

If you suspect you have flu and feel unwell, you can get further advice on the NHS website.

It is important that you stay away from university and avoid mixing with friends until you have been symptom free for 72 hours. The seasonal flu vaccine is free of charge each year to risk groups.

You can find out more about the flu vaccine on the NHS website.  It is important to get vaccinated if you at risk.  Find out whether you are eligible and should be vaccinated here

What to do if you think you have an infectious disease

If you think you may have an infectious disease it is important to follow the advice below to keep yourself safe, and prevent the spread of infection to friends, coursemates and staff:

  • If you feel ill with the symptoms above and believe you may have an infectious illness do not attend University, placements or social events.
  • You should make an appointment to see your doctor letting them know in advance about your concerns before attending the surgery.  Out of hours there are a range of options available including the local NHS walk in centre.  You can call NHS 111 for free if you are not sure which service to use. 
  • If you are in shared University accommodation let your housemates and reception know.
  • Let your University Wellbeing Officer know.  They can also help with advice and support around any impact on your studies, and if you need help understanding this information.

 

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