PARENTS AND STUDENTS - We’d Like You To Know About Meningitis
College students, particularly freshman living in residence halls, have an increased risk of contracting bacterial meningitis. Fortunately, this risk remains relatively low with 1.5 cases occurring per 100,000 students overall.
Recent studies show the rate increases to 3.24 cases per 100,000 students among freshman living in residence halls. Smoking, drinking alcohol and going out to bars are contributing factors.
Approximately 10% of the general population carry the meningococcal bacteria in their noses and throats in a harmless state. During an outbreak, that percentage may reach 95%, yet less than 1% of people exposed will actually develop meningitis. Most people have resistance to it, and persons over age 30 do not seem to be at risk. It is estimated that 15-20 college students die each year as a result of the infection.
Despite the slim chances of getting meningitis, we think you should know that a vaccine exists, which, along with abstaining from smoking, drinking alcohol, patronizing bars and sharing eating utensil, can further reduce the risk. Read on for more information.
- Meningitis is an infection that progresses rapidly (usually within 24 hours) causing inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord.
- Symptoms include high fever, severe headache, stiff neck and back, nausea, sensitivity to light, rash, and disorientation.
- Bacteria are spread by close contact with oral or nasal secretions.
- Treatment includes hospitalization, antibiotics and supportive therapy. It should be started immediately if meningitis is suspected.
- There are several strains including A, B, C, Y and W-135. The only vaccine available is about 85% effective against 4 of these including strain C that is occurring more frequently in the college-aged group.
- The vaccine Menomune is generally safe causing only localized reactions such as redness or soreness at the injection site.
- The vaccine will not protect 100% of susceptible individuals or cover 100% of the strains of bacteria.
- It takes up to 2 weeks to develop protection once immunized.
- The cost ranges from $150 to $200 and the vaccine usually has to be special ordered by your healthcare provider or pharmacist. Insurances may cover the cost.
The Cazenovia College Health Service staff recommends that you discuss the benefits of the meningitis vaccine with your healthcare provider. If you decide to receive the vaccine, consider getting it before coming to campus for optimum protection.
Menactra and Menomune are available through the Health Office at our current cost which is $190.*
Other vaccines you should receive are detailed on the College’s Immunization Form. If you would like more information, please call us at 315.655.7122.
*Subject to change based on manufacturer price
IMPORTANT VACCINE REQUIREMENT!
ALL STUDENTS MUST SIGN AND RETURN A MENINGITIS RESPONSE FORM TO BE CLEARED TO ATTEND CLASSES.