The rest of the University of Kentucky campus does not have cause for concern yet over a student in a dormitory who was hospitalized with probable bacterial meningitis, a representative said Tuesday.
Meningitis is a serious infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord, and the illness is typically spread from coughing, kissing or long-form direct contact with a person who has it, said Dr. Derek Forster, an infectious-disease specialist at UK HealthCare. He said there are typically 4,000 bacterial meningitis cases a year in the country, but he was unsure of the last case at UK.
People who are at the highest risk of contracting meningitis are those in prolonged contact with an infected person or those with direct exposure to oral secretions, Forster said. In this case, those with the highest risk of a secondary meningitis case have been identified and have been given proper antibiotics, he said.
People who went to class with an infected student or were in contact with one for a short period of time are not at risk, he said.
The infected student’s dorm room has been cleaned, said Sarah Nikirk, executive director of auxiliary services at UK. The university was made aware of the infected student Monday.
“We did the cleaning and feel good about the process we took,” Nikirk said. “We got in the room and got it cleaned immediately.”
The particular strain of meningitis has not been confirmed, officials said. The university encouraged anyone who has sudden fever, headache or a stiff neck to follow up with a doctor . Other symptoms are nausea, vomiting, hypersensitivity to light and confusion.
Forster said any college-age student, in particular those who live on campus, should be vaccinated against meningococcal meningitis. This particular strain is most common to college-age people.
Students shouldn’t alter their everyday lives, he said.
“There is always an increased awareness when you have one of these cases, because on the individual level, it can be very severe,” he said. “There is a little bit of balance there. We want to get the word out, but we don’t want people concerned about it as well.”
The university can be more assured that the infection has been contained if no additional cases occur after seven days, he said.