OSWEGO – Laboratory tests have confirmed that an 18-year-old female SUNY Oswego freshman contracted bacterial meningitis, Jiancheng Huang, Oswego County Director of Public Health, said this afternoon. The student is recovering at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse.
The Oswego County Health Department and SUNY Oswego health officials have located persons who had close contact with the student. Several close acquaintances were treated with preventative medication at the Mary Walker Health Center at SUNY Oswego.
Bacterial meningitis is a relatively rare but serious acute illness in which bacteria infect the covering of the brain and the spinal cord. A vaccine protects against the most common strains of meningococcal bacteria, and the student had been vaccinated. The New York State Public Health Law (Section 2167) requires college students to obtain the vaccine or sign a waiver.
The disease is spread by air through droplets of respiratory secretions and direct contact with an infected person, such as sneezing and coughing, sharing food items, a drinking glass, a cigarette or kissing. Symptoms of meningitis may include fever, severe headache or neck ache, chills, mental confusion, stiff neck, vomiting and sensitivity to light.
Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention immediately, including those who were treated as a precaution.
More information about bacterial meningitis and the vaccine is available at these Web sites: http://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/,http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/vis/downloads/vis-mening.pdf; http://www.oswego.edu; http://www.oswego.edu/student/health/walker_health_center/meningitis_faq.html; and http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/pneumococcal/fact_sheet.htm
For more information, call the Oswego County Health Department weekdays at 315-349-3547 or the Dr. Mary Walker Health Center at 315-312-4100. Holidays, evenings and weekends, call the Health Department’s answering service at 315- 341-0086.