ISU faculty stresses importance of good hygiene in wake of menigitis outbreak
Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 00:10
ISU officials suggest students practice good hygiene in wake of recent outbreak of a fungal meningitis.
The outbreak may be linked to contaminated injections and is not contagious, according to the Center for Disease Control. The investigation into the outbreak that has crossed many states is ongoing with the number of cases reaching 233 in 15 states. Nationally, the CDC has reported 15 deaths. Most of the outbreak cases have been among the elderly.
“There have been thirty cases and two deaths in Indiana,” Amanda Turney of the Indiana State Department of Health, said.
Students should be aware that while the outbreak certainly isn’t an epidemic, it isn’t something to be taken lightly. Meningitis has always been a concern for college students. College students are more at risk for illnesses in general because of how close they are to each other all the time.
“Living in dorms and sharing close spaces such as those of the classroom or labs become worrisome this time of year when we see colds and flu symptoms start to emerge,” Susan Eley, chairperson of the Department of Advanced Practiced Nursing. “Students that have been immunized as recommended since the late ‘90s have significantly decreased risk for meningococcal disease. For those that have not had the vaccine they should be vigilant about good hand washing, close personal contact with someone that is ill with flu like symptoms.”
To prevent , Eley recommends people to practice “good hand washing, healthy lifestyle, avoiding direct contact with sick individuals and Vaccination especially for those that live in dormitories.”
“It is required by the state that students going into college have certain vaccinations, and among them is a meningitis shot,” Eley said.
According to the CDC, meningitis is “a disease caused by the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord known as the meninges. The inflammation is usually caused by an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.”
There are multiple kinds of meningitis, such as fungal, which is the strand that is the cause of the current outbreak. Other kinds include bacterial, viral, parasitic, and non-infectious. The U.S. National Library of Medicine says viral meningitis is milder and occurs more often than bacterial meningitis. It usually develops in the late summer and early fall, and often affects children and adults under age 30. Most infections occur in children under age five. Most viral meningitis is due to enteroviruses, which are viruses that also can cause intestinal illness.
Meningitis is a very fast acting disease that and if not treated quickly, could lead to serious bodily damage and even death. If anyone thinks they could be infected with meningitis (symptoms include vomiting, nusea, sensitivity to light and altered mental status), they need to go to the hospital immediately.