What is meningitis?
Meningitis is rare. But if it is present, it can be very dangerous. Meningitis is a bacterial disease that causes swelling of the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal core (this fluid is known as meninges--men-IN-jeez). This swelling can lead to a variety of injuries, including hearing loss, brain damage, paralysis, and even death.
How is it spread?
Meningitis is spread through the air via respiratory secretions (such as coughing or sneezing) or close contact with an infected person (such as kissing or sharing of items like utensils, drinking glasses, or cigarettes).
Who is at risk?
People who live in close contact with each other, such as in apartment complexes, residence halls, or other structures, are at greatest risk. Because undergraduate and graduate students are highly concentrated in facilities like these, they are at a somewhat higher risk.
What are the symptoms?
People are sometimes fooled by the symptoms of meningitis because they are very similar to the common cold and the flu. They include high fever, sever headache, stiff neck, rash, nausea, vomiting, lethargy, and confusion, just to name a few. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact the Hendrix College Health Services Center immediately.
Can meningitis be prevented?
Yes. A safe and very effective vaccine is available to protect against four of the five most common strains of the disease. The vaccine provides protection for three to five years, however, as is the case with any vaccine, the meningitis vaccine may not protect 100% of all susceptible indivduals.
Where can I find more information
To learn more, contact your physician or the Hendrix College Health Services Center. Other resources include: Meningitis Research Foundation, Meningitis Foundation of America