A Scottish student rushed to hospital after confusing meningitis with Covid symptoms

A student who thought she had Covid was in a hurry to hospital after she actually suffered from lethal meningitis.

University of Edinburgh student Alice Jenkins woke up on May 18 with sore limbs and temperature and assumed she had the virus as her roommates in student halls was positive the previous week.

The students planned a blast after exams were over and were supposed to be going to a club that night but Alice, 19, spent the whole day sleeping.

She finally facetimed her mom, Sarah, 58, complaining that she felt bad.



Alice Jenkins initially thought she had Covid
Alice Jenkins initially thought she had Covid

Alice, from Esher, Surrey, awoke from a nap, which she dripped from sweat and had a rash.

Her mother Sarah told her to do a ‘tumbler test’ – pressing a glass against the eruption to see if it had disappeared.

When she didn’t, she told Alice to dial 999.

Sarah, who works as a magistrate, was found out about the symptoms of meningitis because a neighbor’s daughter died of it at the age of just 14.



When Alice awoke from her slumber she dripped with sweat and had a rash
When Alice awoke from her slumber she dripped with sweat and had a rash

Her quick thinking meant that Alice, who is studying PPE, was able to receive immediate medical treatment, which meant she suffered no lasting damage – unlike many young people who may end up with hearing loss, paralysis or brain injury from the disease.

Alice said she was embarrassed to call 999 and a friend called for her.

She was taken to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh where she became so ill that she was unconscious – and says she thinks the experience was more critical for other people, as she can barely remember it.

Within 24 hours she was aware of doctors around her talking about paralysis, but both parents rushed to be with her.

On May 19, she was taken to the infectious disease unit at West General Hospital, which she described as being from an American Horror Story.

She was discharged on May 24 and said she is experiencing a slight headache later, and will need a hearing test in a month.



Alice wants to make other young people aware of the dangers of the deadly disease
Alice wants to make other young people aware of the dangers of the deadly disease

Alice is now on holiday in Croatia and says she believes her mother’s quick thinking saved her life.

She and her mother, Sarah, want to make other young people aware of the risks of the deadly disease that Alice caught four months after her vaccination expired and which is particularly affecting teens.

Alice said: “If I hadn’t had the rash, I wouldn’t have been in the hospital, I just had sore limbs and temperature.

“The week before my roommates had covid, the typical symptoms of meningitis like stiff neck and illness didn’t start until I was in hospital.

“When I went to the hospital, they gave me antibiotics, steroids and antiviruses, without knowing what it was.

“I was really scared to go to A&E, I woke up that night with a rash and Facetimed my mom said ‘phone 999’.

“I was saying ‘I don’t want to,’ but a friend did it for me.”

A friend from home, Kirstin Malcolm, 19, went to the hospital to keep Alice company and kept in touch with her parents, later bringing her a packed bag when they discovered she was going to stay inside.

Kirstin wasn’t too worried that Alice was tired after a hectic week of pubs, clubs and shopping, but was worried when she got a text saying “I’m in A&E lol”.



Alice was transferred to the infectious disease unit in a hospital
Alice was transferred to the infectious disease unit in a hospital

She was holding a cardboard sick bowl for her friend who was vomiting “black colored bile” and seemed only to be able to communicate in the blink of an eye, before being moved to Acute Medical Unit.

Alice said: “It was probably easier for me because I didn’t know what was going on.

“I couldn’t Google it so I didn’t know how dangerous it was.”

A woodpecker test diagnosed meningococcal group B, against which Alice was vaccinated at the age of about 14.

She urged other young people to check if their vaccinations had expired and to order a boost if they had, as hers ended in January.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the brain that can be spread by kissing, sneezing and coughing – although Alice told Public Health Scotland that she had no idea where she might get it.



Alice while she was in hospital
Alice while she was in hospital

No one else in her halls or that she knows got sick of it, but she described her friends ‘parents’ reaction as “petrified” when they found out about it.

She said: “I didn’t have a headache until I went to the hospital, or had a stiff neck, or vomited.

“When they stabbed me, they said I could be paralyzed or get sepsis, or lose my fingers or toes, or have a hearing loss or brain injury.

“They had to keep me away from people because meningitis is contagious, it was pretty lonely but I had a Percy Pig toy with me.

“Because I slept so much I was less lonely.”

Her father Richard, 58, shortened cycling in Italy to visit her and her mother received the first train to Edinburgh from Surrey.

Alice said: “I haven’t even kissed anyone – but I’m thankful it didn’t happen during the holidays.

“I was planning to go to Marbella but that was canceled but the doctors didn’t think I would be well enough to go to Croatia either.

“It’s scary – I was planning to go to a club on Wednesday but I woke up and it didn’t feel so good, and in five hours I was in the hospital.

“We are more aware as a family because we know someone who died because of it, but we didn’t know that vaccination is expiring.

“My chances were one in ten, but I feel right now.”

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