Important health warning for college students : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

Just a "heads up" for any college students and/or their parents...

Fair use, for educational purposes.

CDC Recommends College Students Get Meningitis Vaccine

By Margaret A. Varnell

ATLANTA (Reuters Health) - Federal health officials advise college freshmen to learn about meningitis, and to be vaccinated against the bacteria that often causes the dangerous infection.

``College freshmen, particularly those living in dormitories or residence halls, are four times more likely to contract meningococcal disease compared with persons the same age who are not attending college,'' Tom Skinner, spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta told Reuters Health. ``We are recommending college students and their parents educate themselves about the threat of meningococcal disease and that there is a safe and effective vaccine available that can protect them against certain strains of the bacteria Neisseria meningitides, the most common source of meningitis in this group.''

Meningitis, an infection of the fluid that surrounds the spinal column and brain, strikes some 3,000 Americans annually, resulting in more than 300 deaths. The CDC estimates that between 100 and 125 cases occur among college students annually, causing 5 - 15 deaths. Meningitis can be due to a viral or bacterial infection. The bacteria are spread by air droplets and through direct contact with an infected individual. Researchers have noted that communal living, bar patronage, smoking and irregular sleep patterns have been associated with incidence of the illness. While not causative, these conditions may contribute to the spread of the bacteria.

Symptoms, including high fever, headache and stiff neck are flu-like in nature and can be easily misdiagnosed. They may develop over several hours, or over the course of 1 to 2 days. Left untreated, the infection can result in brain damage, hearing loss, learning disabilities, kidney failure, and death.

Bacterial meningitis can be treated with a number of effective antibiotics if treatment is started early in the course of the disease.

Skinner encourages parents and students not to wait until the fall. They should contact their physician, local health authority, or school now to learn more about the illness and decide if vaccination is appropriate. Information can also be obtained from the Meningitis Foundation of America website,, and the American College Health Association website, The CDC has meningitis fact sheets available at their website,

``These outbreaks usually occur in the late winter and early spring,' said Skinner. ``If parents and students educate themselves now, they can make informed decisions as to the best way to protect themselves.''

-- Deb M. (, June 30, 2000


Does anyone know why all these college students are getting meningitis(as opposed to people in nursing homes, the elderly, the average person on the street)? It seems like there are just a lot of these cases nowadays. What's causing them? My family was discussing this the other evening, but we couldn't come up with an answer. Many thanks for any insight on this.

-- Curious (, June 30, 2000.

>living in dormitories or residence halls

Sick building syndrome?

-- (, July 01, 2000.

The average college student gets too little sleep and consumes too much junk. Factor in the stress of exams, and a student's immune system is likely to be below par.

-- David L (, July 01, 2000.


I thought that perhaps the meningitis could be coming from foreign students returning from overseas? (This isn't to say that mosquitos here in the US *don't* carry meningitis, just that its much rarer here than in more undeveloped countries.)

-- Deb M. (, July 01, 2000.

I know someone who had viral meningitis recently. I wondered how that happened.

-- Mara (, July 04, 2000.

Older people probably have some sort of cross-immunity to the virus. It also happens in the Marine Corps and Army recruit training centers. Lots of exhausted people.

They also should be warning college students about mononucleosis which can be serious in some people and is thought to be passed through improperly washed tableware in college facilities, more often than the conventional way.

-- Sleuth (I', July 05, 2000.

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