SAU Buzz

Preventing meningitis

by Beth Ann Koustas
Posted on Apr 14, 2016

On March 29, students received an email from the Office of the President, Sister Joan Lescinski. The email left many people worried as the university was in- formed that a student who was away from campus on Easter break was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bacterial men- ingitis is a serious illness that can cause complications such as brain damage, hear- ing loss, or learning disabilities. The CDC states that about 4,100 cases of bacterial meningitis occur each year, with around 500 resulting in death.

According to campus nurse, Nancy Hines, the Iowa Department of Health reports an average of 29 cases per year over the past 10 years with an average of three deaths per year.

St. Ambrose University is collaborating with Iowa Department of Health as well as the Scott County Department of Health, according to Sister Joan. Public health officials who have been consulted say that there is no reason to be concerned about an outbreak. Bacterial meningitis is contagious, but can only be transmitted through close contact of an exchange of saliva.

The name of the student affected has not been released, but those who were in close contact with the student have been contacted and are receiving preventative treatments, Sister Joan states in her email.

As of April 6, Nurse Hines reported that the student remains hospitalized, but is off his ventilator and alert and awake, FaceTiming with his friends. Hines adds that there have been no new cases of men- ingitis on campus.

The CDC lists symptoms of bacterial meningitis as: nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light, altered mental status (confusion,) fever of over 101, or a stiff neck and headache. Students are being urged by the university to monitor their health and seek immediate treatment should they exhibit any of these symptoms. Students with concerns can contact Nurse Hines for more information.

Nurse Hines suggests a few ways to reduce your risk of exposure to meningitis including using frequent hand washing and good hygiene. Nurse Hines says not to share food, drink, cigarettes or eating utensils with others as the main form of transmission is through saliva. If you need to cough or sneeze, make sure to use your sleeve or a tissue. Another way to stay healthy is to boost your immune system by eating healthy and drinking plenty of water. Nurse Hines says these tips will help keep students safe from bacterial meningitis as well as other contagious illnesses like colds and the flu.

There is a vaccine to help prevent three types of bacterial meningitis, according to the CDC. Students should contact their doctor if they have questions about this disease or the vaccination process.