PULLMAN, Wash. – A Washington State University student hospitalized with bacterial meningitis is improving.
The 19-year-old male student from Seattle has been upgraded from critical to stable condition and has been removed from a ventilator, says Dr. Bruce Wright, executive director of WSU's Health and Wellness Services.
The student experienced severe flu-like symptoms for two weeks before receiving treatment Sunday at Pullman Regional Hospital. He was then transported to Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane.
The student is a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. Health officials are distributing a precautionary dose of antibiotics to anyone who had close contact with the student and may be at risk. The drug, called Profilax, is considered highly effective in preventing new cases of the disease. About 30 students have been treated.
Wright says this isn't the first time meningitis has infected students at the university. In the past, the disease only spread to people in close proximity to each other.
"That's the kind of recurrance that we're worried about. We're not worried about this wildfire influenza or 'everybody's going to get it' kind of spread," Wright said.
Transmission occurs by droplets or direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions. Persons who share common residence hall areas – such as dining halls – or classroom spaces with the affected student are not considered to be a close contact and do not need treatment.
Symptoms associated with bacterial meningococcal infections may include: fever, severe headache, chills, stiff neck, confusion, nausea, vomiting, joint or muscle pain and sometimes a red or purple rash. Persons experiencing these systems should seek immediate medical attention.
WSU and the Centers for Disease Control recommend anyone living in a dormitory or group housing receive a vaccination to prevent the onset of meningitis. More information is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at: http://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/about/index.html
For more information on WSU’s Health and Wellness, see: http://hws.wsu.edu.