Meningitis

What is meningitis?
According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meningitis is an inflammation (swelling) of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. A bacterial or viral infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord usually causes the swelling.

How does meningitis spread?
It’s important to note meningitis does not spread as easily as the common cold or flu. People do not become infected with meningitis through casual contact or by breathing air where someone with the infection has been.

The bacterium that causes meningitis is spread to other people by sharing respiratory and throat secretions (saliva or spit). Generally, it takes close (for example, coughing or kissing) or prolonged contact to spread the bacterium. According to the CDC, most carriers of the bacteria never become sick.

What are the symptoms of meningitis?
The most common symptoms of meningitis include sudden fever, headache, stiff neck, sensitivity to light, nausea, vomiting and confusion.

How long does it take to show signs of meningitis after being exposed?
This can range from 3-7 days after exposure. 

Is meningitis serious? How do you treat it?
Antibiotics are typically administered to treat meningitis. Most people recover from meningitis within 7 to 10 days. However, if left untreated, serious complications - including permanent disabilities and in rare cases death - can occur.

How can you prevent the spread of meningitis?
Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to prevent meningitis. Other ways to prevent infection include washing your hands often and avoiding sharing things like silverware, drinking containers, lipstick and smoking materials.

Am I at risk?
Our medical staff have been working closely with the Onondaga County Health Department to monitor the situation. We are in contact with those individuals who may have come into close contact with the affected individual. And, we have sanitized all spaces in which the affected student has been.

What should I do when there is a meningitis case?

  • If you think you may have meningitis, call Health Services at 315.443.9005 immediately.
  • Practice these helpful preventative tips: Wash your hands with soap and warm water and avoid sharing things like silverware, drinking containers, lipstick and smoking materials.

Can I be tested for meningitis?
There is no need to be tested for meningitis unless you are symptomatic.

What steps are you taking to ensure the cleanliness/disinfection of the residence hall, classrooms and other facilities the infected student has come into contact with?
The University activated its response protocol immediately upon learning of the case. This includes sanitizing the affected student’s living space, notifying students who live with the student or may have come into contact with the student, and administering antibiotics to students who have had close contact with the ill student as per public health protocols.

Will the infected student be allowed to return to school?
The student will be able to return to campus after treatment is completed.

Is there concern other students have been infected?
The students in close contact with the affected student have already received antibiotics to prevent bacterial infection. 

Since bacterial meningitis spreads by sharing respiratory and throat secretions (saliva or spit), it is important to continue to practice healthy habits including washing your hands often and avoiding sharing things like silverware, drinking containers, lipstick and smoking materials.