Colleges prepare for meningitis scare

As colleges across the country brace themselves for the largest freshmen classes in recent history, administrators are also weary of the increased risk for meningitis.

With three recent outbreaks of meningitis in Manchester, Iowa, local health officials are hoping University of Iowa students get vaccinations.

Manchester's recent outbreak found three people with different strains of meningitis, Dr. John Tyrrell, an Iowa doctor, said. The incidents prompted local schools to advise children ages 3-18 to get vaccinated, he said.

This year, Southern Illinois University officials are making a concerted effort to inform and inoculate students. One SIU sophomore made a full recovery after being stricken with bacterial meningitis last December. In February, another student died from meningitis-induced pneumonia, doctors said.

"We don't want to frighten people," Nancy Sullivan, assistant manager of nursing at Kent State University Health Services, said. "It is a rare disease. It's significant because healthy people that aren't sick are dead in 48 hours or severely debilitated."

Though the disease usually peaks in late winter and early spring, in the past month, the disease caused the death of a 40-year-old man and a 7-year-old boy in the Kent State area.

The last case of bacterial meningitis at Kent State was in November 1998, Sullivan said.

Military recruits who, much like college freshmen, reside in close quarters, have been required to get vaccinated since a meningitis outbreak hit military bases in 1971.

Never miss a story

Get our weekly newsletter delivered right to your inbox.

More from The Eagle

Would you like to support our work? Donate here to The Eagle Innovation Fund.