University Issues Health Alert
WARRENSBURG - 04/22/2007 - The University of Central Missouri is taking proactive measures to eliminate health risks to members of the campus community after a student who lives off campus was treated this weekend after a preliminary diagnosis for bacterial meningitis.
The student received treatment at Western Missouri Medical Center Saturday after experiencing symptoms that included fever and mental confusion that began the previous day. The student is now in stable condition. Members of the University Health Center, meanwhile, have been contacting individuals who may have had close or prolonged contact with the student to provide them with information about the disease. An antibiotic commonly used to prevent the disease is also being made available at the center.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meningitis is an infection of a person's spinal cord and the fluid that surrounds the brain. The bacteria that cause the ailment are spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions, such as coughing and kissing.
"Fortunately," CDC says, "none of the bacteria that cause meningitis are as contagious as things like the common cold or the flu, and they are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been." It is estimated that one of only 250 people living in the same household with an infected person will contract the disease.
"We are taking every step possible to identify and contact individuals who are most at risk," said Michelle Hendricks, director of University Health Services. "We want them to know about the disease, its signs and symptoms, and what they can do to prevent it."
She said the university contacted individuals who may have attended a party in which the affected student was present in a parking lot behind 418 McGoodwin Street Wednesday evening, April 18. Any student who was at the party and may have had close contact with the student is urged to call the University Health Center 660-543-4770. As a precautionary measure, they will be given a single dose of the antibiotic commonly used to prevent the disease. The university is also contacting friends and acquaintances of the student to ensure it reaches everyone who could be at risk.
According to the CDC web site, symptoms can include high fever, headache, and stiff neck. These symptoms can develop over several hours, or they may take one two days. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, discomfort looking into bright lights, confusion, and sleepiness. As the disease progresses, patients of any age may have seizures.
The CDC web site has accurate information about meningitis; please encourage those with questions to visit this site: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/meningococcal_g.htm.
Please contact Jeff Murphy, University Relations, at 660-543-4640 or Michelle Hendricks, University Health Center at 660-543-8593