Rutgers student diagnosed with bacterial meningitis
A Rutgers student was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis and hospitalized on March 18, according to an email sent to the University community by Melodee Lasky, assistant vice chancellor for Health and Wellness.
“Rutgers Health Services is coordinating its response with local, regional and state health officials,” Lasky said. “Those who had close contact with the student are being notified so they can receive antibiotics as a preventative measure.”
The student’s identity was not disclosed.
Meningococcus, the colloquial name for Neisseria meningitidis, is an illness affecting the lining of the brain and spinal cord and infecting the bloodstream. The disease is treatable with antibiotics, but requires immediate medical attention, according to the email.
The New Jersey Department of Health is conducting special testing to determine the specific type of bacteria that is causing the illness, Lasky said.
Between 10 and 15 out of every 100 people infected with bacterial meningitis die from the infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of the 100 survivors, 11 to 19 people experience long-term effects, ranging from brain damage to hearing loss.
About 550 people in the United States were diagnosed with the condition in 2013, according to the CDC. This comes out to about 18 cases for every 10 million people in the United States.
While children less than 12 months old are most susceptible to the disease, those between 16 and 23 years old are also likely to be diagnosed with the disease, according to the CDC.
Symptoms include high fever, chills, rashes, fatigue, confusion, nausea and vomiting, rapid breathing, sensitivity to light, headache or a stiff neck, showing up within two days of the infection, sometimes within a few hours, Lasky said.
Students experiencing any of those symptoms should contact their medical provider as soon as possible, especially given the recent case of meningitis at the University, Lasky said.
Students who are not experiencing these symptoms should remain cautious anyway. Meningitis is usually transmitted through direct exchange of respiratory secretions such as when coughing, sharing drinks, kissing or being in close proximity to someone affected for an extended amount of time.
The illness is not spread by simply breathing the air where an infected individual has been.
The University Health Services advises the student body to stay vigilant and recommends good personal hygiene practices such as washing hands, covering coughs and not sharing drinks, utensils or cigarettes with others.
The New Jersey Department of Health does not recommend the cancellation of any activities or scheduled events on campus at the moment.
“Members of the University community who experience symptoms or have health concerns may visit their health care provider,” she said. “Students may visit Rutgers Health Services Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Hurtado Health Center and 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Busch/Livingston Health Center and the Cook/Douglass Health Center.”
Nikhilesh De is a School of Engineering junior. He is the news editor of The Daily Targum. Follow him on Twitter @nikhileshde for more.
Bushra Hasan is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student majoring in cell biology and neuroscience. She is a staff writer for The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @Hasanabanana for more.