This archived article was written by: Nick Critchlow
Severe headache, high fever, stiff neck; these may seem like the symptoms of the flu, or it could be meningitis.
Bacterial meningitis is a serious infection that can lead to death in a short period of time. It begins as a mild cold which leads to severe headaches, sudden high fever and stiff neck. This then leads to the swelling of the meninges, which are layers that cover both the brain and spinal cord, and cause neurons to die. 50% of untreated cases may be fatal.
Meningococcal meningitis strikes about 3,000 Americans each year and is responsible for approximately 300 deaths annually. It is estimated that 100 to 125 cases of meningococcal disease occur annually on college campuses and 5 to 15 students die as a result.
In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of college outbreaks. Evidence indicates that college students residing in campus dormitories or residence halls appear to be at higher risk for meningitis than college students overall. It is estimated that 100 to 125 cases of meningitis occur annually on campuses and 5 to 15 students die as a result.
Meningitis is spread through person-person transfer, usually when people in a close proximity for long periods of time. The most common areas of transfer are grade schools, military camps, prisons, airport terminals and college dorms.
Further research released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows freshmen living in dorms have a six fold increased risk for meningitis than college students overall.
“Currently we have not had any cases on the campus, but in the last eight years the county had three to four teens that have been diagnosed with meningitis and have died,” says CEU Health and Wellness Clinic nurse Kate Alleman.
You can minimize your risk of bacterial meningitis by receiving a vaccine. The meningitis vaccine is generally safe and effective and is used for immunization against certain bacteria strains that account for about 70% of meningitis cases. At this time, it is unclear how long immunity lasts, so booster shots may be required in the future. As with any vaccine, not all individuals will be protected 100% after receiving the immunization.
The CDC recommends that college students, especially freshmen living in dormitories to get a vaccine as soon as possible. The vaccine will give a person protection against the virus for up to three to five years.
The vaccine costs approximately $80 . In at least 30 states, these vaccines are mandatory for college freshmen living in dorms, however Utah is not one of them.