According to a memo obtained by News 3 from Lt. General Joseph Weber to faculty and staff of Texas A&M, a student at the university has been hospitalized after being diagnosed as having contracted bacterial meningitis.
According to state and national health officials, bacterial meningitis is a serious, potentially deadly disease that can progress extremely fast. This is the university's only known active case at this time. The diagnosis has been confirmed by Public Health officials. The name and/or health status of the student are being withheld due to privacy laws.
Bacterial Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord and can be safely treated with antibiotics. Exposure to bacterial meningitis is through close personal contact with respiratory droplets. Activities such as kissing or sharing a drink or cigarette with the infected individual pose a higher risk of infection, while indirect contact through coughing, sneezing, or the spread of respiratory droplets onto surfaces that are touched by others and then brought to the nose or mouth pose a lower risk of infection.
The university has an extensive protocol for dealing with communicable diseases, one it has followed since becoming aware of the first reported case of meningitis, a disease that strikes about 3,000 Americans each year. Be assured that we are taking all prudent reaction and precautionary steps in these current reported cases, including the following:
- Classmates and faculty of the student have been notified directly of the situation and are being updated as new information becomes known.
- Student Health Services will consult with students who believe they might have been exposed and distribute antibiotics free of charge and without appointment to students who are determined to be at risk.
- Students who wish to lessen their risk of meningitis if there is future exposure can receive vaccine by visiting Student Health Services. The cost of the vaccine is $125 through Student Health Services.
- Faculty and staff should contact their local physician for information about antibiotics.
Symptoms of bacterial meningitis are high fever, headache and stiff neck. Early diagnosis and treatment are very important. If you experience any of these symptoms, even if you have been previously vaccinated, you are strongly encouraged to seek medical attention immediately.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends all students get a vaccination as part of college enrollment and university officials have conveyed that information during enrollment conferences. For more information, go to http://www.cdc.gov/ .
Questions and/or concerns should be directed to the Offices of the Dean of Student Life at 1.888.440.7345 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. After 5 p.m. additional questions about meningitis can be directed to Dial-A-Nurse at 979.458.8379. Additional information can be found on the Student Health Services website at http://shs.tamu.edu/news/meningitis.htm.