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UI student being treated for meningococcal meningitis

Bill Murphy , associate chancellor for public affairs
(217) 333-5010

10/26/2001

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A University of Illinois student is ill with meningococcal meningitis, Dr. Robert Palinkas, the director of McKinley Health Center on campus, said today (Oct. 26).

The student is being treated at Provena Hospital in Urbana. Chancellor Nancy Cantor and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Pat Askew met with the student’s parents at the hospital this morning.

"I was so encouraged to hear from his parents and physician that he is doing better," Cantor said. "We will do everything we can to help him and his family."

The student is a first-year graduate student in engineering.

Palinkas said that he and his staff are contacting the student's close friends, apartment-mates, and fellow members of the Marching Illini band. Palinkas and his staff are following up to get any additional information about others who might be at risk.

He stressed that others were not in danger of infection unless they had been in intimate or prolonged close contact with the student.

"The agent that causes meningococcal illness is spread through respiratory droplets and secretions," Palinkas said. "Most people have natural immunity to meningococcal disease and will never fall ill from it, even with close exposure. However, a small percentage of the population does not carry this immunity. It is this group that is susceptible.

"Generally, people with intimate or prolonged close contact require preventive therapy. Examples are individuals living in the same household, sharing water bottles, and kissing. These secondary cases of meningococcal disease are not common, but they are preventable by taking appropriate medication."

Palinkas stressed that any student who wished was welcome to
come to McKinley for examination and treatment.

McKinley Health Center provides meningitis inoculations free of charge to all registered students
.