Recently Wessex Scene have reported on a number of the leading research from the University health scientists. In 1995, Jaham Anzar, did the same.
FOLLOWING the local outbreak of meningitis, the University have announced further developments to ‘lead the way’ in the fight to eradicate the most coin-mon form of the disease, the deadly B-strain bacteria.
More than 60% of meningitis cases in Britain are due to this lethal strain. However, Professor John Heckles of the Southampton University School of Medicine has been investigating this particular type of meningitis, and his work has attracted more than £400,000 in funding from the National Meningitis Trust.
The basic difference between the B & C strains is that the B-strain is considerably more difficult to eradicate. This is due to the fact that our immune systems don’t “see” the virus as being foreign and hence do not respond to it. What Professor Heckles has managed to identify is one single component of the bacteria which trains the body’s cells to fight the disease.
Currently, trials of the B-strain immunisation are taking place, and when asked to comment on how effective this programme has been Professor Heckles told Wessex Scene,
It is still far too early to predict the effectiveness. The tests are being caried out on a group of 25 children and we are still in the trial stages.
Professor Heckles also went on to say,
I have no precise idea as to when a vaccine will be available. We are, however, looking at the arrival of a vaccine for the B-Strain within the next 5 to 10 years.
Meningitis issues were debated at a meeting of the Students’ Union Council. The council meets once a month and includes voting representatives from all parts of the University. It is also an open forum for student discussion. The first meeting after Christmas will be publicised as soon as students return from the exeat so get involved. Join the Council.
Up-to-date information on meningitis is available on the Southampton Univer-sity World Wide Web homepage.
AN END TO THE OUTBREAK WHAT WILL HAPPEN NOW
THE UNIVERSITY of Southampton have responded constructively to criticism of their role in the recent meningitis outbreak and now confirm an end to the crisis.
Spokesmen from the University answered tough questions at a meeting of the Students’ Union Council, the main representative body for students at this institution, and requested further feedback from those concerned. The Council is notorious for passing half relevant motions on the nod, however students reacted warmly to this unprecedented gesture which came, in part, as a consequence of articles written in this newspaper.
Robert Green, the coordinator of Student Services, and Peter Reader of the Public Relations department reiterated efforts to ensure guidelines were stuck to in the face of hot pressure from the national and local media. They both also acknowledged that lessons still have to be learned for the future.
They continue to sustain that while the vaccination programme was widened, they were adhering to long naming university policy and health authority guidelines.
The spokesmen admitted it was the University’s own decision to offer voluntary vaccination to all students after the third and final death. It was not how-ever in direct contravention of health authority advice and, following an effective awareness campaign in previous weeks, only 4000 of the potential 15,000 students opted for this extra protection.
Meningitis is not easily transmitted and vaccination only provides limited protection. Fears were suppressed by injecting all staff and students at the University’s own expense. This decision was taken following extensive external consultation. It was then in the interest of students to exercise their own judgement on the matter.
Awareness among students has now dramatically increased while staff are said to still express a real lack of knowledge. Attention was drawn to a member of staff from the Law faculty who expressed fear after a case last March, at entering the faculty building in case residual meningitis may be present. Meningitis is only contracted through very close personal contact.
The University will now consider the option, should further such crises occur, of making important announcements in the presence of the Union Council.
The Council is a limited forum for discussion and rarely has a high turn out. Attempts were made at democratisation this year by including voting student representatives from faculties and Halls of Residence. Action is being taken to improve publicity for these monthly meetings, however, attendance for the moment remains desperately low.