Probable Case of Meningitis
A freshman from of Pinchot Hall in East Halls has been diagnosed with a probable case of meningococcal meningitis and has been receiving treatment at Mount Nittany Medical Center. Those close to the student have also been offered prophylactic medication as a precaution. While meningitis is not easily transmittable – it’s spread through saliva and routine, close contact – but the CDC does state that college students living in dormitories are at increased risk for the disease.
Meningitis is a bacterial infection and can be treated with antibiotics like penicillin, but since it usually presents itself like a less serious infection (lots of flu-like symptoms), the disease is usually not detected early, and one in ten die from the disease, with others infected for life.
I know what you’re thinking: “But Caitlin, didn’t UHS require us to get vaccinated before arriving at Penn State?” The answer: sort of.
Firstly, UHS only recommends the vaccine. Housing, however, does require it, though one can fill out a waiver to exempt themselves from the vaccine. Secondly, there are different types of meningitis. You most likely got the MCV4 vaccine (MCV4 gives better longer-lasting protection and is better at preventing spread than the alternative MPSV4 vaccine), which protects against 4 types of meningococcal diseases, including only 2 of the 3 most common in the US. Thirdly, while the vaccines do work extremely well, they only protect 90% of the people who get them.
While this is certainly cause for concern, it’s not the first time a college student has gotten meningococcal meningitis, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Last year UPenn, Cornell, and SUNY Oswego all had cases around this time last year. Recently, a UW-Madison student was diagnosed with the ailment. But colleges and university are prepared for these things and do everything they can to keep all their students safe, including Penn State.