Date: March 26, 2009
To: All Students
From: Patricia M. Lampkin, Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer <vpsa@Virginia.edu>
Subject: Student Admitted to Hospital with Bacterial Meningitis
A fourth-year male student at the University of Virginia has been admitted to the University Hospital with bacterial meningitis. He is currently in serious condition and undergoing treatment in the intensive care unit.
All personal contacts and first-responder personnel who were thought to have had close contact with this individual were notified and have since received antibiotic prophylaxis.
Bacterial meningitis, specifically meningococcal meningitis, occurs in college students at a rate four to five times the general population. Individuals living in close quarters, concurrent respiratory infections such as the flu or mononucleosis, and certain types of weakened immune systems contribute to the increased risk for infection.
The Commonwealth of Virginia has required meningococcal vaccination (or a waiver) for all undergraduate students at four-year colleges since 2001. Currently, 95 percent of U.Va. undergraduate students have been vaccinated against meningococcal disease, and 77 percent of all U.Va. students have been vaccinated. Students who met the University pre-entrance immunization requirements upon enrollment can assume they have been appropriately vaccinated.
This is a rare but very serious disease and carries mortality rates of up to 15 percent. Though not as highly contagious as some infections, household and intimate contacts are at risk because of direct contact with respiratory secretions and saliva. People with casual contact such as classmates, teammates, and teachers/faculty are not considered to be at increased risk of disease.
Meningococcal meningitis bacteria are identified as having five strain types, four of which are prevented by the currently recommended meningococcal vaccines: Menactra and Menomune. Strain type B is not prevented by vaccine. In this current case, a strain type has yet to be identified.
Meningococcal meningitis can present with high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, confusion or sleepiness, and a unique red rash that starts on the hands and feet. Anyone who develops these types of symptoms should see a physician immediately.
* U.Va. students with questions can call (434) 982-3915 during the day or (434) 972-7004 after hours.
* Students who have waived the vaccine in the past and now want to be vaccinated, can self-schedule an appointment for a vaccine at https://www.healthyhoos.virginia.edu.
* Again, students who met the University pre-entrance immunization requirements upon enrollment can assume they have been appropriately vaccinated.
More information about meningococcal disease in college students is available at www.ACHA.org .
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Last Modified: Monday, 30-Mar-2009 11:22:00 EDT
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