April 25, 2017

SIU student diagnosed with bacterial meningitis

A Southern Illinois University Carbondale student has been diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, a serious illness that is spread by direct contact with saliva or through the coughing or sneezing of those who are infected.

Although the disease is not highly contagious, the university has notified students and faculty who may have been in direct contact with the student and has provided preventative treatment with antibiotics, according to Dr. Ted Grace, director of University Health Services.

Grace said that meningitis is an inflammation of the tissues covering the brain and spinal cord.  The bacterium can also cause a serious bloodstream infection.

“This bacterium is not transmitted by routine classroom contact,” he said.  “Persons who have been intimately exposed to cases of this disease, such as persons living in the same household, are usually treated with a special antibiotic to prevent them from becoming ill. However, as a precaution, we have reached out to students and faculty in the student’s classes, as well.”

Grace said the student was diagnosed on Monday, April 24, and remains in critical condition.

While students, faculty and staff who have not been contacted by University Health Services should not be concerned, Grace encouraged everyone to be aware of bacterial meningitis symptoms, which include fever, headache and a stiff neck.  Often, nausea and vomiting develop and a rash may appear. He said symptoms often occur suddenly.

Students who become ill with any of these symptoms should go to the Student Health Center or their primary care provider’s office as soon as possible.  The Student Health Center is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. If symptoms develop when the Student Health Center is closed, students should go immediately to the nearest emergency room. Individuals who are not students should go to the emergency room or a primary care provider, he added.

Students with questions or concerns can call the Health Center at 618-453-3311.