An Ohio University sophomore is under observation for a probable case of bacterial meningitis. The male student, who lives in Bromley Hall, was admitted yesterday to a medical facility in Columbus. Assistant Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones has been in contact with the student and reports that he is in good spirits.
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.
"Even though this case has not yet been confirmed, we have decided to err on the side of caution, making certain that close contacts are aware and informed," said Vice President Kent Smith.
Jenny Hall-Jones and members of the Student Health staff will meet with Bromley Hall residents tonight at 7 p.m. Medical staff will be available on-site to answer questions and administer prescriptions for prophylactic antibiotics, a preventive measure for those students who may have been in close contact with the student. Hudson Health Center will remain open until 7 p.m. tonight and will reopen tomorrow morning at 8 a.m.
University employees have also thoroughly cleaned the room, bathroom and common areas in the student's residence hall.
Those who have a concern about exposure or have symptoms described above should see a health care provider. Vaccinations to prevent bacterial meningitis are available for students from health care providers and at the Student Medical Service in Hudson Health Center on campus and are recommended for those living in residence halls and fraternity or sorority houses.
The Student Health Service is providing the preventative antibiotic to students who may wish to receive it. The antibiotic is a 500 mg dose of Cipro. A single dose is available for $4 and can be added to a student's bill. Hudson Health Center is open from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. Monday, Feb 8, and Tuesday, Feb 9. More information on the hours and services provided at Hudson Health Center are available online. If you experience symptoms and the Hudson Health Center is closed, you should visit the O'Bleness Memorial Hospital emergency room, 55 Hospital Drive, Athens.
For additional information, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's frequently asked questions at http://www.cdc.gov/meningitis/about/faq.html.