The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Case of meningitis on campus creates concern among students

On Feb. 7, Ty Buckner, associate vice president of communications and marketing, emailed an urgent health alert that a Guilford student had tested positive for viral meningitis.

“Doctors confirmed Saturday that the Guilford student with meningitis has the viral type,” said Buckner in the email. “The student remains under medical care, and we are in contact with the student’s family to offer our support. At this time, we have no other confirmed cases of meningitis on our campus.”

Rumors about meningitis spread contagiously.

The residents in Bryan Hall, where the first case of meningitis was found, became concerned about their own health.

“I did not know what meningitis was,” said senior Josh Williams, a resident of Bryan Hall.

“I found out exactly who (the victim) was,” he added, “and they live within close proximity to me. It was kind of shocking. I felt like something serious was happening, and I started to question my own health.”

All students and administrators of the Guilford community were involved in the meningitis watch, but only a few of them knew much about the prevention and management of the central nervous system infection.

“Meningitis is the inflammation of the tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord,” said junior Nick Caputo, biology and health sciences major. “If not treated, it could cause degradation to the brain. Anti-viral medication is usually used to help to with the disease since meningitis can be a byproduct of other diseases like flu or herpes.”

Another student suggested tips to help prevent meningitis.

“Maintain personal hygiene and an awareness of others who may have the infection,” said senior Delaney Williams, a biology major. “I would make sure I had the vaccine since the treatment depends on the type of infection.”

According to Guilford’s health advisory, it is recommended that students get a checkup at Eagle Physicians, where doctors can determine whether symptoms indicate meningitis. Students are also advised to get a meningococcal vaccine before moving into residence halls to prevent serious health complications.

“Anyone having symptoms should seek medical attention,” said Susan Smith, administrative assistant at Milner Student Health and Counseling Center. “Symptoms of meningitis include fever, severe unrelenting headache, confusion, vomiting (and) stiff neck, especially when you try to touch your chin to your chest.”

Meningitis, known as meningococcal disease, can be viral, fungal or bacterial. It is usually spread in saliva, stool and other fluid secretions. Most cases of meningitis in the U.S. are caused by a viral infection, which is the easiest to cure.

According to the nonprofit medical research group Mayo Clinic, college students aged 16 to 25 are most at risk for meningitis because it usually occurs in places where people live in close quarters.

In this community of strong service and care for students, the odds of getting meningitis are lower than average. It is a rare disease that can be minimized further by taking preventive measures.

“The Student Affairs Division, under Todd Clark’s leadership, and the Office of Communications and Marketing strive to be timely and accurate in informing faculty, staff and students about these types of medical concerns,” said Buckner. “The first commitment is to the student who is ill. In the case of the meningitis diagnosis, Student Affairs is in close contact with the family of the student to offer support and care.

“The next commitment is to the campus community. Student Affairs, through Communications and Marketing, provides as much information as possible to keep the community informed and safe.”

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