Bacterial Meningitis Warning at OU

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Ohio University is contacting its people associated with the Athens Campus about what appears to be a case of bacterial meningitis. Jenny Hall-Jones, the senior associate vice president for Student Affairs and Dean of Students emailed the following Wednesday evening:

“An Ohio University first-year student living in James Hall is under observation for a probable case of bacterial meningitis. The female student was admitted yesterday to the hospital. I have been in contact with her mother and am pleased to report that she is recovering nicely.

A serious illness that progresses quickly and can be fatal, bacterial meningitis infects the linings of the brain and spinal cord. The earlier meningitis is caught, the better chances are for recovery. Some 1,400 to 3,000 cases occur in this country each year, with about 100 to 125 of those on college campuses, according to the American College Health Association.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bacterial meningitis — though rare and not as transmissible as the common cold or flu — can pass from one person to another through contact with saliva, such as by touching, kissing, drinking from the same cup, being very near someone who sneezes, or having prolonged contact with the infected person. Studies show that meningitis bacteria cannot live outside of the body for more than a few minutes. Therefore, infection from the environment is not likely. Regardless, the Residential Custodial Services staff deep cleaned the bathroom and sanitized the common areas of James Hall as an additional precaution.

We are still gathering information about the case, but preliminary results show that the type of meningitis that caused this student’s infection is not the type of meningitis that can be treated prophylactically. That means that there is no preventive treatment for people who came into contact with this person in the preceding days.

Common symptoms of meningitis include severe headache, stiff neck, fever, disorientation, lethargy, nausea and vomiting. If you have symptoms described above, you should take appropriate precautions and see a health care provider – even if you have received the meningitis vaccination, as not all strains of meningitis are prevented through vaccination. For additional information, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s frequently asked questions at