From staff reports
University officials confirmed a case of bacterial meningitis on the Athens campus Saturday morning. Charles "Charlie" Wulf, a first year student, was transported Friday afternoon to a Columbus hospital. While Wulf was initially reported to be in stable condition, Vice President for Student Affairs Kent Smith has remained in regular contact with the family and reports that he is showing improvement.
Dean of Students Ryan Lombardi indicated in an Oct. 12 communication to parents that no additional cases of meningitis have been reported. Lombardi also assured parents and that they and members of the university community will be notified promptly if any additional cases are identified.
The roommates of the West Green resident were transported to O'Bleness Memorial Hospital and given a prophylactic antibiotic on Friday. Wulf's family has given consent to release Charlie's name to alert anyone who has had close contact with him so they can seek medical attention, if desired.
Student Health Services physician Lee Ann Conard and Vice President of Student Affairs Kent Smith met with James Hall residents Saturday morning. Conard provided information about the disease, answers to student's questions and an opportunity to receive a prophylactic antibiotic that will lessen their chances of becoming infected. They will also contact other students outside the hall who could have been in contact with the ill student recently.
"I wanted to err on the side of caution, making sure that close contacts were aware and informed so they could decide if they wanted to pursue the antibiotic," Smith said.
University officials also reported that all common areas within the residence hall, including the student's room, have been disinfected.
Vaccinations to prevent bacterial meningitis are available for students from health care providers and at the Student Medical Services in Hudson Health Center on campus and are recommended for those living in residence halls and fraternity or sorority houses.
Hudson Health Center is providing the preventative antibiotic to students who may which to receive it. The antibiotic is a 500 mg dose of Cipro. A single dose is available for $4 and can be paid directly or added to a student's bill. Hudson Health Center is open from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 12, and Tuesday, Oct. 13. More information on the hours and services provided at Hudson Health Center are available online.
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 can't live outside of the body for more than a few minutes. Therefore, infection from the environment is not likely.
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.
Common symptoms include severe headache, stiff neck, fever, disorientation, lethargy, nausea and vomiting. Because symptoms mimic more common illnesses, people should seek immediate treatment if these symptoms develop -- especially if they occur suddenly.
The Division of Student Affairs will provide information updates with students, parents and the university community by e-mail and through www.ohio.edu/emergency.
For additional information, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's frequently asked questions at www.cdc.gov/meningitis/bacterial/faqs.htm.
Updated Oct. 12, 2009.