Tallahassee Democrat, page 1B
Dec. 17, 2006
by Adam Weinstein
DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER
As thousands of friends and family members converged on Tallahassee Saturday for FSU’s commencement exercises, university officials announced that a student living on campus was diagnosed with contagious bacterial meningitis earlier in the week.
“Individuals who were in closest contact with this student have already been identified, contacted by the Leon County Health Department and treated” with antibiotics, according to an email statement by Mary Coburn, FSU’s vice president for student affairs.
People who may have been exposed to the ailment commonly undergo treatment before a diagnosis is complete. That’s because meningitis, an infected swelling of the brain’s lining, or meninges, “is a serious illness which is fast-acting,” said Coburn.
According to the Web site for FSU’s Thagard Student Health Center, the potentially fatal illness can also result in “permanent brain damage, hearing loss, learning disability” or kidney failure. It’s especially prevalent among college-age students who live in close proximity, affecting 100-125 students per year nationwide.
Nearly 40,000 students are enrolled at FSU, interacting daily in classrooms, student unions and athletic facilities. FSU offers students a low-cost meningitis immunization, but it does not require them to be immunized to register and attend courses, according to the Health Center.
Casual contact with an infected person is considered “low risk” contact, Coburn stated.
Regardless, she implored students and staff members to seek medical attention immediately for symptoms “similar to a severe case of the flu,” especially a sore neck with a high fever.
Concerned individuals can contact FSU’s Thagard Student Health Center at 644-4567 of the Leon County Public Health Department at 487-3155.