The Washtenaw County Health Department has reported a confirmed case of meningococcal meningitis at the University of Michigan on Jan. 26, and the student recently attended fraternity events at U-M and Michigan State University.
The student attended a fraternity event at the Delta Kappa Epsilon Ann Arbor residence on Jan. 20 and another fraternity event hosted by Sigma Beta Rho at Club Rush in East Lansing on Jan. 22. Students who attended either event are considered close contacts and require immediate antibiotic treatment.
Any U-M and MSU students that may have been exposed should notify the University Health Service, and any non-U-M and MSU students who may have been exposed should contact their healthcare provider immediately to receive treatment for prophylaxis against Neisseria meningitidis.
“This is not an outbreak and risk to the larger community remains law, but meningococcal meningitis is a very serious illness,” Washtenaw County Medical Director, Dr. Juan Luis Marquez, said in a written statement. “We are working as quickly and collaboratively as possible to provide information and treatment options to anyone with potential and direct exposure to the known case.”
Meningitis is a vaccine-preventable illness and may also be treated and prevented with the antibiotic, prophylaxis. In addition, the health department recommends a treatment of prophylaxis regardless of meningococcal vaccination status and that it is imperative to begin treatment within 14 days of exposure.
Meningococcal meningitis is caused by the bacteria, Neisseria meningitidis. This disease causes swelling of the membranes around the spinal cord and brain. Symptoms of meningitis may include sudden onset of fever, headache, stiff neck, vomiting, rash, or confusion.
Meningitis is spread through contact with an infected person’s oral or nasal secretions, according to the WCHD. Close contact includes having been coughed or sneezed on, kissed, shared food, drinks, and utensils, and being in close proximity in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation for a prolonged period with the infected individual.
The Ingham County Health Department also issued a statement detailing the free distribution of ciprofloxacin and rifampin, common medications of the antibiotic prophylaxis, to those potentially in close contact with the infected individual for MSU students. The distribution clinics are currently being held in MSU Room on the third floor of the MSU Union Building on Jan. 28 and 29 from 1 to 5 p.m.
“At this time, no MSU students have shown symptoms suggesting an infection,” Ingham County Medical Director, Dr. Adenike Shoyinka, said in a written statement. “Early treatment for close contacts will aid us in containing further spread.”
The Washtenaw County Health Department, U-M, Ingham County Health Department, and MSU are actively investigating the meningitis case.