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Published On: Thu, Apr 11th, 2013

University of Wisconsin-Madison student being treated for meningococcal meningitis

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has confirmed a case of meningococcal meningitis in a student Wednesday, according to a university news release.

The yet unnamed students is currently hospitalized and being treated for the serious bacterial disease. As of this morning, there are no updates on the condition of the student.

Kohl Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison Image/Pbrown111 at the wikipedia project.

Kohl Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Image/Pbrown111 at the wikipedia project.

Meningococcal disease is not highly contagious and there is no reason to believe that this case presents a health risk to the UW-Madison community, says Sarah Van Orman, M.D., University Health Services (UHS) executive director.

Meningococcal disease can refer to any illness that is caused by the type of bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis, also known as meningococcus.

The most common and familiar manifestation of this disease is  meningococcal meningitis, the most severe form of bacterial meningitis.

If not treated, meningococcal disease leads to death in 50% of cases. Even if diagnosed early and treated with antibiotics it still causes death in 5-15% of people.

The symptoms of bacterial meningitis are sudden, with fever, stiff neck, body aches and headaches. As the disease progresses other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, photophobia and seizures. A petechial rash seen on the trunk and lower extremities, bleeding complications, multi-organ failures and shock are usually final signs. This disease has the ability to kill within hours of getting it.

meningococcus

Neisseria meningitidis
Image/CDC

Up to 10-20% of older children and young adults carry this organism in the mouth and nose, though the carriage rate will vary with age and closeness of population. The majority of people that carry this bacterium have no clinical disease. The organism is spread person to person through respiratory secretions from the nose and mouth (coughing, sneezing and kissing). Experts are unsure why some people advance to meningitis disease while many do not.

Crowded living conditions facilitate the spread of the organism and places like military barracks and college dormitories are well documented areas of concern with this disease.

If you have close contact with someone with meningococcal meningitis, see your doctor for prophylactic antibiotics.

Meningococcal meningitis is a devastating disease with epidemic potential. This disease is considered a medical emergency and if you have the classic symptoms see your health care professional. It can be treated with antibiotics, but without delay.

There is a vaccine available that protects against most of the common strains of meningococcal meningitis seen in the US.

Students who are concerned or have questions about their health or are in need of counseling or support are encouraged to contact University Health Services (UHS) at 608-265-5600.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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  1. christy spindler says:

    there most likely was a medical error somewhere along the line. this breaks my heart as my son died from this at 20 years old 10 years ago while attending college in WI.even medical professionals know very little about this horrific disease.Think about this– how many college kids want to go to the ED? When this disease strikes the ill student has a feeling something is different and needs medical attention. there are too many college students who would have survived this disease if the medical professionals were aware and knew to treat this as a medical emergency.

  2. UW-Madison senior, Henry Mackaman, loses battle with bacterial meningitis - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] a follow-up to a story earlier today, a 21-year-old Economics major and DJ on WSUM Student Radio, lost his battle with the serious […]

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