H-SANTA BARBARA COUNTY

Nov 19, 2013 7:41 PM by Victoria Johnson

Meningitis cases at UCSB

Within the last week, two students at UCSB have been diagnosed with meningitis. Seven students were diagnosed with it at Princeton since March. It is a condition that can be fatal.

Meningitis happens when the lining that covers the brain and spinal cord get inflamed or infected. There are two types of meningitis, bacterial and viral. Some symptoms include fever, headache, stiff neck, rash and confusion. Vaccines can prevent bacterial meningitis. Antibiotics and steroids are used to treat cases. There isn't a vaccine for viral meningitis but fluids and rest help fight it.

Meningitis can spread quickly on college campuses because students are living in close quarters.

"It was really scary. They didn't know what was wrong with me. You're not supposed to get meningitis twice," said Taylor Antrim, Cal Poly Sophomore.

Antrim first got viral meningitis in high school. The second time was her freshman year at Cal Poly.

"It tends to happen in clusters. That is why we recommend vaccinations for people who live in dormitories or military recruits because they are living in close proximity,' said Dr. David Harris, Director of Health and Counseling Services at Cal Poly.

Sharing drinks, coughing and kissing can easily spread the disease.

"People will say you have meningitis, but they don't know the severity of the case," said Antrim.

"The problem is this disease process can explode so fast that you can be, within an hour, in a coma," said Dr. Harris.

He says that keeping students and the housing department informed is top priority.

"All of the resident advisors and janitorial staff are aware of keeping things clean," said Dr. Harris.

However, it is up to students to take care of themselves too.

"I have to make sure I'm getting the right nutrients in my body. Water and sleep is important because without it you are more susceptible to be more ill," said Antrim.

Cal Poly's Health Center is not aware of any meningitis cases. The health department for San Luis Obispo said there aren't any current cases in their county.

The Public Health Department for Santa Barbara County said there aren't any other cases of meningitis other than the two UCSB students who are currently being treated.

All cases of meningitis are immediately reported to county health departments.
If you have any of the symptoms, go to the hospital right away.

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