CHAMPAIGN, IL — A University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign student is being treated at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana with a confirmed case of meningococcal meningitis. The student was admitted to the facility Tuesday, Oct. 10.
Dr. Robert Woodward, medical director of McKinley Health Center on the Urbana campus, and his staff are contacting close friends and roommates of the student, who resides on the fourth floor of Leonard Hall, as a means of identifying others who might be at risk.
Dr. Woodward and the professional consultants at the Illinois Department of Public Health have stressed that others were not in danger of infection unless they have been in intimate or prolonged close contact – approximately eight hours and within three feet – with the student. Contact in a classroom situation is not considered an indication for treatment.
The agents causing meningococcal illness are spread through respiratory droplets and secretions. Most people have natural immunity to meningococcal disease and will never fall ill from it, even with close exposure. Most of the public are immunized against the most common type of meningitis among adults.
Generally, people with intimate or prolonged close contact with a confirmed meningitis patient require preventive therapy. Examples are individuals living in the same household, sharing water bottles and kissing. Secondary cases of meningococcal disease are not common, but they are preventable by taking appropriate medication.
There are a number of effective antibiotics, and medical prevention can be as simple as taking a single dose of antibiotic within the first few days following exposure.
Symptoms of meningitis include a fever of more than 101 degrees F., often accompanied by a sudden, severe headache or stiff neck, a rash or mental confusion.
Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.
Students who have questions about meningitis or believe they may have had close contact with the diagnosed student may visit the McKinley website or call Dial-A-Nurse at 217-333-2700. Students also may go to McKinley for examination and treatment.