Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Meningitis Case on OU Campus

Nicole DeChant

Ohio University has one confirmed case of bacterial meningitis and one probable second case on campus. The first case was reported last Saturday night when a student from Crawford Hall, was taken to O'Bleness Memorial Hospital. He was then transferred to a Columbus area hospital where he is reportedly recovering.

The second student from James Hall, was reported as a second probable case of meningitis. On Monday afternoon, the student was transferred to a medical facility outside of Athens.

Later on Monday evening, Ohio University sent out an emergency text message alert and an e-mail alert to all students and faculty. They also posted the alert on the university website.

Vice President of Student Affairs, Kent Smith says, "At this point we don't know if they were close friends, but however we do know that they were in a class together. We have identified that common point of contact so we're in the process of notifying faculty and students to make them aware so they can go and get treatment if needed."

On Sunday and Monday, Dean of Students, Ryan Lombardi, VP of Student Affairs, Kent Smith and Director of Student Medical Services, John Cunningham met with Crawford Hall residents who live on the affected student's floor. They discussed precautionary measures with the students and answered questions. They plan to continue these meetings with James Hall residents as well as students in the affected classroom.

VP of Student Affairs Kent Smith talks about how preventative measures are difficult regarding meningitis.

- severe headache
- stiff neck
- fever
- disorientation
- lethargy
- nausea and vomiting

Bacterial meningitis often resembles the same symptoms seen in cold and flu viruses, which are common during this time of year. VP of Student Affairs Kent Smith says that if you experience any of these symptoms, visit your physician as soon as possible. It's especially important if these symptoms occur suddenly.

Currently, Hudson Health Center offers the vaccine for bacterial meningitis as well as an antibiotic pill. But what's the difference?

Vaccine- The vaccine is given as a shot and it will not take effect in your body for another 2-3 weeks. It works as a preventative measure but is not guaranteed.

Pill- It is an antibiotic given after the person has been in close contact with someone who has meningitis. It acts to kill the bacterial meningitis in the body that you have been exposed to recently. It does not work as a preventative measure. For example, if you come in close contact with bacterial meningitis after you have taken this pill, it will not prevent you from contracting it. Costs $2.00.

Ohio University senior Kim Brack was at Hudson Health Center last night to take the antibiotic pill. There is a girl in one of her classes that has recently been ill and is currently in Columbus being tested. Kim says, "I'm probably fine, but when I went to high school we had a girl pass away from meningitis so it's something that hits kind of close to home and nothing that I want to take a chance with."

OU senior Kim Brack tells us why she decided to visit Hudson Health Center after being notified.

For additional information, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's frequently asked questions website. You can also call the Office of the Dean of Students at 740-593-1800.

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