Bacterial Meningitis Confirmed in University of Idaho Student

Thursday, February 3 2011

LEWISTON, IDAHO – Public Health - Idaho North Central District received laboratory confirmation of bacterial meningitis in the previously suspected case in a University of Idaho student. Public Health continues to work with officials from the University of Idaho to identify close contacts of the ill student who may benefit from preventative antibiotic treatment.

Early treatment with antibiotics may effectively prevent the disease. The risk to the general public of contracting this infection is very low. Contacts will be considered for preventative antibiotic treatment if they had close contact with the student.

Those considered close contacts include household members, people socially close enough to have shared saliva (eating utensils, cigarettes, food and beverage containers) and /or anyone directly exposed to nasopharyngeal secretions from the student. Transmission occurs by droplets or direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions.

Symptoms associated with bacterial meningitis 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 symptoms should seek immediate medical attention. The time from exposure to signs and symptoms of this bacterial illness are usually 3-4 days with a range of 2-10 days.

Meningococcal vaccine is recommended for all students, particularly those in dense living situations such as residence halls and Greek housing. For students vaccinated five or more years ago, a booster vaccine is recommended. Students may obtain vaccinations through Student Health, Public Health – Idaho North Central District, or private providers. This vaccine is not available at Quick Care.

Good hand hygiene is important to control the spread of the disease. Everyone should cover both mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing and wash hands thoroughly and dispose of used tissues. Sharing of common items such as eating utensils and drinking cups should be avoided.

For additional information contact Mike Larson, RN, BSN, Staff Epidemiologist at Public Health - Idaho North Central District, 208-799-3100.
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Media Contacts: Joni Kirk, University of Idaho Communications, (208) 310-9736,; or Tara Dudley, PIO, Public Health-Idaho North Central District, (208) 799-3100

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit