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Hugh Jessop
Director, IU Health Center

Last modified: Monday, September 26, 2005

IU student diagnosed with bacterial meningitis

Sept. 26, 2005

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Health Center officials on Monday (Sept. 26) issued a public health alert after a female student at IU Bloomington was hospitalized with a diagnosis of meningococcemia.

An 18-year-old freshman from Terre Haute was reported in critical condition at Methodist Hospital, Indianapolis. She became ill on Friday while in Terre Haute, where she sought treatment and was then transported to Methodist.

IU Health Center Director Hugh Jessop said an IUHC team would meet at 8 p.m. this evening in her IU residence hall, Briscoe Quadrangle, with students who may have recently come in contact with her. The team will discuss the symptoms and risks of the infection, and how it can be transmitted from one person to another. They will dispense an oral dose of Cipro to anyone who believes they may be at risk.

Jessop said the meningococcemia infection is not easily spread. It requires close contact, such as sharing drinks or food, or kissing, for the bacteria to be transmitted.

Cipro is an antibiotic used to decrease the chance of serious infection in persons carrying these bacteria.

Jessop said today's actions are in keeping with university policy whenever there is a diagnosis of a serious communicable disease in the student population. A public alert is issued to quickly seek out persons at risk, and offer counseling and treatment.

Students who believe they may be at risk of infection can also visit the IU Health Center screening desk, Room 216. The IUHC is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

"This is not the first time we have encountered this problem," Jessop said. "We have found that interceding quickly reduces the risk of secondary cases, which are rare. In all other IUB cases involving meningococcal infection, we have not had a secondary case. It is our hope that this trend is consistent with the current case."

Meningococcemia is a generalized multi-system infection by the same bacterium, N. meningitis, that causes meningococcal meningitis, which affects only the linings around the brain. With meningococcemia, the infection is carried to all the body's organs, but generally does not cross into the brain. Both diseases are considered serious and life-threatening if not promptly treated.