Student warns others after contracting Meningitis at university

A student is urging all young people and their parents to become more aware of the symptoms of Meningitis, after the potentially deadly disease changed her life overnight.

Catherine Dove had just started university, when she fell ill. It's taken her years to recover.

  • Watch this report by Charlotte Briere-Edney:

Catherine Dove was embarking on the next phase of her life; starting university, making new friends, studying hard.

I went to bed one night thinking I had 'freshers flu' or a cold and I had a really stiff neck, I couldn't stand the light, I felt really unwell. When I woke up the next morning, I could barely move, I couldn't use my phone. That was when I realised something was really badly wrong. I got taken to hospital and that was the end of my term, and that was 2015.

Catherine Dove, Meningitis survivor

Doctor's told her she'd be back at university the following week, but that didn't happen.

Before contracting Meningitis, Catherine had been an active teenager; going on mountaineering expeditions and rarely ill.

Catherine was very active before contracting Meningitis

Along with babies, university students are one of the groups at highest risk of catching the disease. Teenagers and their parents have been urged to get to know the symptoms.

What is Meningitis?

  • It's an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord (meninges).

  • It can affect anyone, but is most common in babies, young children, teenagers and young adults.

  • It can cause life-threatening blood poisoning (septicaemia) and result in permanent damage to the brain or nerves.

Symptoms of Meningitis

  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C or above

  • being sick

  • a headache

  • a rash that does not fade when a glass is rolled over it (but this will not always develop)

  • a stiff neck

  • a dislike of bright lights

  • drowsiness or unresponsiveness

  • fits (seizures)

Treatments for Meningitis

(Bacterial meningitis usually needs to be treated in hospital for at least a week.)

  • antibiotics given directly into a vein

  • fluids given directly into a vein

  • oxygen through a face mask

  • Steve Dayman, Founder- Meningitis Now

Catherine is finishing her studies. She hopes her stories will help other students be aware of the disease that could have killed her.