What is Meningococcal Meningitis?
- Meningococcal Meningitis is a deadly bacterial infection of the tissue layer surrounding the brain and spinal cord (the meninges).
How do you get it?
· 5 main groups of bacteria can cause the infection: A, B, C, W-135, and Y.
· The bacteria are mainly spread by the transmission of oral secretions (e.g. kissing, sharing drinks, silverware, etc.).
· Once spread, they can travel to the meninges and cause meningitis.
Who is at risk?
Meningitis is not common, but 5-10% of the
population can carry the bacteria and spread it to others without ever showing
symptoms of meningitis.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms may include fever (sudden onset), stiff
neck (with pain upon movement), and headache, possibly in combination with
nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and confusion.
Symptoms begin to show approximately 3-7 days
What do I do if I think I have meningitis?
Go directly to Student Health Services
(SHS) on Shepley Drive on the South 40 during business hours.
After business hours, call EST at 314-935-5555 on campus or 911 off campus.
How is it treated?
Early treatment with broad-spectrum
antibiotics is crucial because meningitis can
· The fatality rate is 10-15% even with
appropriate medical care. Without treatment it is
as high as 40%.
How can I protect myself?
The primary vaccine will guard against those
cases of meningitis caused by strains A, C, W-135, and Y. This vaccine is
approved by the Food and Drug Association (FDA) and recommended by the Centers
for Disease Control (CDC). It is required for entrance to most colleges and
universities, including Wash U. Wash
U requires it for all freshmen and recommends it for all students living in
residence. Available at SHS, it is
covered by most insurance companies. Use
the student portal at shs.wustl.edu to make an appointment.
A new vaccine, released in June 2015, protects
against the B strain of bacteria that was responsible for several recent
outbreaks. The B vaccine is not yet recommended by the CDC for widespread use. It is covered by some insurance companies including the Wash U United Health Plan. Check with your insurance company regarding coverage and make an appointment with your SHS provider to discuss this new vaccine.
Don’t assume you’re immune. The
primary vaccine has not always been included in the standard vaccinations during
childhood. Check your immunization records. There is a good chance that
you have not had the primary vaccine and are susceptible to infection. If you
haven’t had it, make an appointment at shs.wustl.edu to get protected as soon