I thought I had caught Covid from my roommate until my mother urged me to call 999 – it saved my life.

The coronavirus pandemic made us all suspect pain and aches and pains.

So when Alice Jenkins woke up with sore limbs and high temperature on May 18, she put it down to the top.

Student Alice Jenkins began to feel unwell in May and thought she had caught Covid from her roommates.

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Student Alice Jenkins began to feel unwell in May and thought she had caught Covid from her roommates.Credit: SWNS
The 19-year-old woke up from a nap with a rash and sweated profusely.

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The 19-year-old woke up from a nap with a rash and sweated profusely.Credit: SWNS
Her mother urged her to call 999 and Alice arrived at the hospital - after she was found to have meningitis.

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Her mother urged her to call 999 and Alice arrived at the hospital – after she was found to have meningitis.Credit: SWNS

Just a week before, her housemates in halls at the University of Edinburgh had the virus, so she just assumed she had finally succumbed to it.

That night, the 19-year-old called her mother, Sarah, 58, because she felt bad.

Her housemates planned a big night out to celebrate finishing their exams, but Alice couldn’t go.

She ached and after waking from a nap, she dripped with sweat and had a eruption.

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Concerned, her mother Sarah urged her to do a “tumbler test”, which is when you press a glass to your skin to see if you eruption disappears – if not – then it is a sign of meningitis.

Mom Sarah knew the symptoms because a neighbor’s daughter had previously died of the disease – only at the age of 14.

She urged her daughter to call 999, but Alice was too embarrassed, so a friend called on her.

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.”

She was taken to the infectious disease unit at West General Hospital, where a friend from home Kirstin Malcom, kept her company.

Kirstin received a text from Alice that read “I’m in A&E lol”.

While in the ward she was holding a sick intestine for her friend, whom she said vomited “black bile”.

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

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.

Alice Jenkins

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

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

Meningitis B can be fatal in less than 24 hours if the bacteria enter the bloodstream to cause sepsis.

The bacteria that cause meningitis B live in the nose and throat and can be spread by close contact due to coughing, sneezing or kissing – so it is especially common among university students who live close to each other.

Signs of the virus can often appear as a hangover, which is why some college students struggle to recognize when they are unwell – as many tend to attend events held specifically for students that most often involve alcohol.

Meningitis: The signs you need to know

The symptoms of meningitis develop suddenly and include:

  • High fever above 37.5 degrees – the average human temperature
  • being ill
  • headache
  • a macular eruption that does not fade when a glass is rolled over it
  • stiffness, especially in the neck
  • sensitivity to bright lights
  • drowsiness, anger, or lack of energy
  • cold hands and feet
  • epileptic seizures

The classic rash associated with meningitis usually looks like small, red spots at first.

But it will spread on the body and become red or purple spots.

If you firmly press the side of a glass against the skin where the rash is and it does not wither, it is a sign of blood poisoning and you should get medical help immediately.

Alice is now urging others to check their vaccine records – since her ran out in January.

She added: “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.”

She is currently on holiday in Croatia with her family, but doctors are not sure if she is well or not well enough to travel.

“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.

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“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,” she added.

Alice is pictured above with her mother Sarah, who urged her to call 999 when she took the test.

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Alice is pictured above with her mother Sarah, who urged her to call 999 when she took the test.Credit: SWNS

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