PULLMAN -- A Washington State University student has been hospitalized with a presumptive case of bacterial meningitis.
The 19-year-old male student had been experiencing severe flu-like symptoms for two weeks before being treated at Pullman Regional Hospital Sunday and transported to Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane where he remains in critical condition.
The student is a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. Whitman County health officials have been working with WSU Student Health to identify anyone who may be at risk of contracting the disease. Those who had contact with the student and may be at risk are being offered a precautionary dose of antibiotics.
Transmission occurs by droplets or direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions. Persons who share common residence hall areas - such as dining halls - or classroom spaces with the affected student are not considered to be a close contact and do not need treatment.
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Those considered to be close contacts include household members, people socially close enough to have shared saliva (eating utensils, cigarettes, food) and/or anyone directly exposed to nasopharyngeal secretions of the student. Early treatment with antibiotics may effectively get rid of bacteria. The risk to the general public of contracting this infection is very low.
Symptoms associated with bacterial meningococcal infections may include: fever, severe headache, chills, stiff neck, confusion, nausea, vomiting, joint or muscle pain and sometimes a red or purple rash. Persons experiencing these systems should seek immediate medical attention.
WSU and the Centers for Disease Control recommend anyone living in a dormitory or group housing receive a vaccination to prevent the onset of meningitis. More information is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at: http://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/about/index.html