What is Meningitis?
Meningitis is any inflammation of the meninges, a membrane which surrounds the brain and spinal cord and encloses the cerebral-spinal fluid. Meningococcal disease is serious and can be fatal, though 90%-95% of the people it infects recover with antibiotic therapy.
Symptoms include severe headache, fever, rigidly stiff neck (can't touch chin to chest), possibly alterations of the level of consciousness, and sometimes a purplish or reddish rash that doesn't blanch when pressure is applied to skin. Fortunately, meningococci aren't nearly as contagious as the common cold or influenza; they are not spread by simply breathing the same air where a person with meningococcal disease has been. Meningococci spread among people through the exchange of saliva and other respiratory secretions during activities like coughing, kissing, and children chewing on toys.
Meningococcal vaccine is effective against the types prevalent in Oregon. SHAC has the vaccine for type meningitis. The vaccine is a two-short series. Meningococcal vaccine is not required for entrance to PSU.
Am I at risk?
Meningococcal Meningitis tends to occur in young age groups. College freshman living in dorms are at a moderately increased risk. A total of ten cases occurred in Oregon college students between 1993 and 2004, or about 0.7 cases per 100,000 college students per year - less than the statewide average. The risk of vaccine-preventable meningococcal disease, is, therefore, low among Oregon college students. Close contacts of cases (household members, close friends) are at elevated risk of disease; after a case occurs, these persons should take antibiotics to prevent the infection. School classmates, those living in other dormitory rooms, and health-care workers attending the case are generally not at elevated risk.
If you are interested in receiving the series of meningitis vaccinations and you are a SHAC eligible student, please make a routine provider appointment for a screening.
Seek care immediately if the symptoms of Meningitis appear. Keep yourself healthy with good nutrition and adequate rest.