Outlook: Ohio University News & Information

Meningitis investigation at Ohio University enters next stage

Mar 22, 2010
From staff reports

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in collaboration with the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and the Athens City-County Health Department (ACCHD), has concluded the field portion of a collaborative health investigation into several cases of bacterial meningitis among students attending Ohio University.

"The final investigation results will take some time yet," said ACCHD Health Commissioner, Dr. James Gaskell. "But right now, we continue to encourage students to get vaccinated for bacterial meningitis (with meningococcal conjugate vaccine), avoid the known risk factors such as smoking or sharing saliva, stay healthy and take care of your friends and fellow students."

The public health team conducted a case-control investigation that gathered specific information from affected and unaffected students. The data was then analyzed to determine if certain factors put the affected students at a higher risk for contracting the disease.

The team arrived in Athens on March 2, and has worked at an accelerated pace to complete the field portion of the investigation before the students left for spring break. During this time, investigators collected data by conducting interviews with OHIO students.

"The CDC was given full access to the Ohio University campus," said Ryan Lombardi, dean of students. "We are appreciative of their work and for the feedback from students who participated in the study.  We will continue to proactively educate the campus community about meningitis and other health issues."

Symptoms of meningitis can appear quickly, and can include fever, headache, and stiff neck. It may initially resemble a non-specific flu-like illness, and other symptoms may include body aches, rash, cough, or rapid breathing. Anyone who believes they may have contracted meningitis should see a physician as soon as possible.

The strain causing these cases is not covered by currently available meningococcal vaccines. However available vaccines cover two of the three most common disease causing strains. CDC recommends vaccination for certain individuals, including all adolescents and first-year college students living in dormitories.

Ohio University recently developed a Health Alerts: Meningitis page that provides some important information about bacterial meningitis and what resources the university has in place to prevent and treat it.


Published: Mar 22, 2010 9:28 AM

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