A 21-year-old female student at the University of Colorado-Boulder has been diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis, CU officials said Monday.
The student, who was diagnosed Friday, was in stable condition Monday at Boulder Community Hospital, CU officials said. The woman is a junior living off-campus.
Boulder County Public Health officials are investigating the single case. No other cases of the disease have been confirmed by county or state officials, CU officials said.
Meningococcal meningitis is a serious bacterial infection of the tissue surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
"Most of those CU community members who have had close contact with this student have already been contacted and offered treatment by Boulder County Public Health," said Dr. Don Misch, CU assistant vice chancellor for health and wellness.
Meningitis can be spread to others, however, CU officials said the risk is confined to those who have had close contact with the patient.
"Simply being in a classroom with someone who has meningitis or passing them on the street does not put you at a significant risk of getting meningitis," said Misch.
"Close contact includes kissing; sharing cigarettes, drinks, glasses or eating utensils; and being exposed to secretions from the nose or throat of the infected person," according to a CU news release.
"Others, particularly undergraduate students who have never been vaccinated for meningococcal meningitis or have not been vaccinated in the past five years, should consider getting the vaccination," Misch said. "On a university campus, those at greatest risk in general for meningococcal meningitis are students living in residence halls, so these individuals should especially consider vaccination at Wardenburg Health Center or from their personal health care provider."
"Vaccination is the most effective way to protect against this severe disease," said Murielle Romine, Boulder County Public Health's communicable disease control program coordinator.
CU sends parents of all incoming freshmen a letter during the summer with information about the recommendation for immunization.
Symptoms of meningococcal meningitis can include fever, severe headache, stiff neck, irritability, sleepiness, nausea, vomiting, rash, disorientation and confusion. A person may be infected for one to 10 days, and most commonly three to four days, before showing any symptoms.
The last reported case of meningococcal meningitis at CU-Boulder was in March 2006, when a male student became ill. He fully recovered, CU officials said.
Those who are interested in getting the vaccination can go to Wardenburg Health Center from 8:30 to 11 a.m. and from 1:30 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
For more information on meningococcal meningitis and the vaccination, check the Wardenburg website
or go to BoulderCountyHealth.org
and click on Meningococcal Information.
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