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Meningitis Prevalent on College Campuses

Brittany Pickett
Staff Writer

   Each year on college campuses, approximately 100 to 125 cases of meningococcal occur. As a result, between five and 15 students will die because of it, according to the American College Health Association. 

   Meningococcal is also referred to as meningitis. MedlinePlus.com states, “Meningitis is an infection that causes inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cords.” 

   According to WebMd.com, of the two forms of meningitis, the viral form is less severe. Those that contract this form typically recover without specific treatment. It occurs more often and typically develops in the late summer and early fall. 

   The bacterial form progresses rapidly and requires immediate medical attention. It can result in brain damage and death even if treated, according to MedlinePlus.com. This form of meningitis becomes prevalent in the late winter to early spring. 

   According to the ACHA, “Meningitis disease is contagious and progresses very rapidly.” It spreads from person-to-person through the air by respiratory droplets. The bacteria can also spread by direct contact with an infected person such as sharing items like cigarettes or drinking glasses and through kissing. 

   Symptoms of meningitis include: fever and chills, severe headache, nausea and vomiting, stiff neck, sensitivity to light and change in mental status according to MedlinePlus.com. However, as the disease progresses it could cause seizures. 

   Within the first few hours of contraction the virus meningitis can cause shock and death. Anyone who experiences any symptoms should seek immediate medical treatment. 

   According to the CDC, “(The diagnoses of meningitis) is usually made by growing bacteria from a sample of spinal fluid. The spinal fluid is obtained by performing a spinal tap in which a needle is inserted into an area in the lower back where fluid in the spinal canal is readily accessible.” 

   Meningitis treatment, according to MedlinePlus.com, includes the use of antibiotics, which are prescribed for bacterial meningitis. The use of antibiotics is not effective for viral meningitis. Treatment of secondary symptoms including brain swelling, shock and seizures require other medications and intravenous fluids. 

   The ACHA recommends first-year college students living in residence halls to get a vaccination. The vaccine for meningitis, known as Meningococcal Polysaccharide vaccine, is available in the United States, according to the CDC. 

    “Meningitis cases should be reported to state or local health departments to assure follow-up of close contacts and recognize outbreaks,” the CDC stated.

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ŠThe Voice 2006
Revised
01/13/2008 03:30:56 PM — http://www.uamont.edu/Organizations/TheVoice/4_11/meningitis.htm