Meningitis is inflammation of the protective membranes surrounding the brain or spinal cord, and is usually caused from an infection. Meningitis is most often caused by bacteria or a virus. Bacterial meningitis can be extremely dangerous. Symptoms can come on suddenly and progress quickly. 10-15% of cases result in death. 1 in 5 people that survive will then live with permanent disabilities such as brain damage, hearing loss, kidney damage, or limb amputation. College students are at a higher risk of contracting meningitis because of the close living quarters. Meningitis is spread by oral and nasal respiratory secretions during close contact like kissing or coughing on someone. Meningitis bacteria cannot live outside of the body for very long so is not spread as easily as a cold virus. To prevent contracting Meningitis you should receive the recommended vaccines, wash your hands, and cover your cough. There are 2 different types of the Meningitis vaccine and you need both to ensure the most protection. No vaccine can guarantee 100% effectiveness, but can significantly reduce your risk of illness. The first meningitis vaccine protects against serogroups A, C, W, and Y. The other protects against serogroup B. Depending on the brand, you may need 2 or 3 doses to be fully vaccinated. Come to the Health Center for an immunization. Meningitis symptoms are similar to those of the flu, come on suddenly, and may become deadly fast. Treatment should be provided early with antibiotics. People who are in close contact with the infected person should also be treated as a precautionary measure.
For more information regarding meningitis, consult Center for Disease Control websites.