“She thought it was just the flu. We all did. But she didn’t seem to be getting any better. Her parents made her go see a doctor, which was a good thing. It turns out she didn’t have the flu.
It was something much worse. Something more dangerous, something more contagious, something life-threatening, something scary,” said my friend Ashley. I was on the phone with her talking about her roommate at Elizabethtown College. It turns out that her roommate, Jocelyn has been diagnosed with Meningitis. o Meningitis is a dangerous infection that can cause the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord to swell. There are two types of Meningitis.
The most common type of Meningitis is caused by a virus. Viral Meningitis is a mild form, and can be treated with very little treatment. Bacterial Meningitis, commonly referred to as Meningococcal Meningitis is more serious and can cause more serious effects including permanent damage to your nervous system, and in the most extreme cases, death. Outbreaks of Bacterial Meningitis are common in small communities, most often college campuses. ‘ College students are at especially high risk to contract Meningitis. Several reasons behind this are the fact that students are participating in the “college lifestyle.” Recent evidence indicated that college student residing on campus in dormitories or residence halls appear to be at higher risk for meningococcal meningitis than college student overall.
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Further research released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows freshmen living in dormitories have a six fold increased risk for Bacterial Meningitis than college students overall Drinking, smoking, poor sleeping habits and being around such activities put you at higher risk of Meningitis. The infection can also be spread through oral secretion. Kissing, coughing, sharing makeup, sharing utensils, and drinking out of the same straw as an infected person are all ways that The majority of outbreaks occur in the winter and spring when school is in session. One-third of all Bacterial Meningitis outbreaks between 1991 and 1996 occurred in schools or universities. Symptoms of meningitis are similar to those of the flu and are therefore easy to overlook. People with meningitis complain of symptoms such as headaches, fevers, stiff necks, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light.
Some people develop a rash. Meningitis, if left untreated can spread quickly. It can spread throughout your entire body, and eventually lead to death within mere days, hours, of getting infected. It is important to seek treatment as soon as you think you might have Meningitis. 3, 000 Americans contract Bacterial Meningitis each year. Out of those 3, 000, about 10 %, or 300 people, die from the infection.
Approximately 125 of these cases occur on college campuses across the country. Out of these campus outbreaks, there is an annual average of 10 student deaths. It is highly recommended that college students receive the Meningitis vaccine before moving into their dorm rooms. Many schools are starting to require all students living on campus to get the vaccine before being allowed to enter the dormitories. The vaccine is administered by a shot, and has shown to be 85-100% effective in fighting against the infection.
The side effects of the vaccine are very mild, and primarily consist of rain and redness at the area of injection for up to 48 hours after receiving the shot. In addition to getting the vaccine, there are several things that college students should do to lower the chances of getting stuck by Bacterial Meningitis. Many college students do not get enough sleep. While lack of sleep alone, will not cause you to catch Meningitis, it weakens your immune system which makes you more susceptible to many diseases including Meningitis. Getting a well balanced diet is also crucial to maintaining your health during your college years. Avoiding drugs and alcohol also greatly lowers your risk of contracting Meningitis.
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Meningitis is the silent killer on your campus. It is important to take care of yourself so that you do not catch this horrible infection. All students should take precautions such as not sharing makeup and utensils with other people. The best advice to give college students is to make sure they eat healthy, get plenty of rest, and be smart about their behavior. Besides, not only will this help fight against contracting diseases, it will also help you to be more successful in college.
College students have plenty of things to worry about besides their health, why add something more to the stress?