Penn: Latest meningitis unrelated to others

March 9, 2009 3:03:36 PM PDT
The latest infection is the fourth in less than a month on the Ivy League campus. Students are on spring break.. But school leaders are at work to make sure everyone is aware.

University officials have sent emails to students, to say that this fourth case in a month, is an isolated one, with no links to do the three cases reported just three weeks ago.

The campus is quiet, with most students away for spring break.

Still, the ones here are talking about the latest health alert. The school's website gives bold notice that another student is infected and hospitalized with bacterial meningitis.

Student Brian Weiss told Action News, "It's odd that such a rare case- and it's already happened, this is the fourth time."

University officials say this case is not related to the three previous cases of meningitis that were linked to the Greek system of fraternities and sororities.

Those cases in mid-February sparked the university's health center to give preventive antibiotics to more than 3,000 students.

Student J.J. Lian told us, "My roommate went but I didn't feel like I was exposed or anything like that."

Bacterial meningitis is a contagious, potentially deadly infection. It's spread through close contact, such as kissing, sharing drinks, or using the same eating utensils.

There are about 100 to 125 cases of the illness reported on every year on college campuses nationwide.

University officials tell Action News there's no need to widely distribute medication again, because all students who've had close contact with the sick student and need preventive treatment have been notified.

Jodi Pollock, a student, expressed confidence, "I think the university is doing a good job so I'm not personally scared."

Meanwhile the infected student is still in critical but stable condition.

There is a vaccine to protect against meningitis, and Penn requires it for students on campus. However, the vaccine does not protect against all strains of the bacteria.

Check the Centers for Disease Control's information site - click here.

What parents need to know, from the National Meningitis Association.

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