Student Hospitalized With Meningitis Was 'Terrified'

Doctors Believe Student Had Viral Meningitis

A Colorado State University student who was hospitalized with meningitis on the same night that another student died from meningococcal disease, said he was “terrified.”

CSU freshman Zachary Ratzlaff said he woke up Tuesday morning with a headache and what he thought was the flu.

“I didn’t think I’d have to go to the hospital for it,” he said. But hours later, Ratzlaff was being rushed to Poudre Valley Hospital, barely able to breathe. He said he felt pain all over his head and neck.

“It felt like little tiny needles were jabbing in and out and like a throbbing pain in the back of my neck,” he said.

It was not until Ratzlaff was hospitalized, being tested for meningitis that he found out that another student, Christina Adame, had died that night of meningococcal disease.

“I didn’t know what to think. I was just kind of in shock,” said Ratzlaff. “I was a little terrified of what would happen next.”

Anne Hudgens, director of CSU Health Network, said Adame’s death and Ratzlaff’s hospitalization put the campus on alert.

“It was difficult to know what was happening with Zach admitted to the hospital that same evening,” she said. “Any time there’s a disease that seems to come on suddenly and kill somebody really quickly, I think it’s a frightening thing.”

Hudgens said students who came into close contact with Ratzlaff before he was diagnosed were given antibiotics, in case Ratzlaff had bacterial meningitis.

Ratzlaff was released from the hospital Friday but is still awaiting test results to find out what strain of meningitis he had. Doctors told him they were “95 percent sure” he had viral meningitis, which is typically less severe than bacterial meningitis and for which there is no vaccine.

Hudgens said health officials have reassured CSU that Ratzlaff no longer poses a health risk.

Ratzlaff said he is just relieved to be well again.

“(I’m) pretty lucky,” he said. “I feel glad that I made it through.”