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University Relations

University of Central Missouri
Administration 302
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4640
Fax: 660-543-4943


University Issues Health Alert

Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG - 04/24/2007 - A UCM student who was preliminarily diagnosed with bacterial meningitis over the weekend is responding well to treatment today. The campus, meanwhile, continues to make progress in its efforts to prevent the spread of the disease.

Michelle Hendricks, director of University Health Services, said the university has worked with the student's family and close friends to determine who could be most at-risk, including individuals who attended a party in Warrensburg last week with the student. As a precautionary measure, about 120 people have since received the single-dose antibiotic commonly use to prevent bacterial meningitis.

Bacterial meningitis is a potentially serious disease, which is highly virulent, but not highly contagious. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the disease spreads through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions such as coughing, kissing, and sharing a cup. None of the bacteria that cause meningitis are as contagious as things like the common cold or flu, and they cannot be spread simply by 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 individual will ever contract the disease. Hendricks said that sitting next to a student in a classroom is not considered a health threat.

The affected student experienced symptoms on Friday, April 20, and was admitted to a hospital the following day. The student, who resides off campus, is currently in the hospital in stable condition, and no other incidents have been reported.

"We're following up on all of the specific contacts of which we are aware," Hendricks said. "There is a strong network of students out there who have assisted our efforts, and we appreciate their cooperation."

She added that the university has received excellent cooperation with local health care agencies to help stop the spread of the disease. Johnson County Community Health Services is notifying local health care providers of this incident so that physicians will be on alert for any meningitis-type symptoms among their patients.

According to the CDC web site, symptoms of bacterial meningitis 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.

UCM students are urged to continue to call the University Health Center at 660-543-4770, if they have questions. The CDC web site has accurate information about meningitis.


Contact Jeff Murphy, University Relations, at 660-543-4640 or Michelle Hendricks, University Health Center, at 660-543-8593