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Penn State student diagnosed with meningococcal disease

The state Department of Health notified Penn State officials that a 19-year-old student was hospitalized after being diagnosed with invasive meningococcal disease, according to a university release.

Known contacts of the student received antibiotic prophylaxis as a precautionary measure.

“At this time no further actions are recommended, but University Health Services personnel will continue to work with the Department of Health to monitor the situation,” the release said.

Meningococcal disease is an infection that may develop rapidly and can be fatal, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms include fever, severe headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to bright lights, confusion and lethargy.

The disease is spread by activities like kissing, sharing eating utensils, drink containers and toothbrushes, and by prolonged, close contact with an infected person.

The university encourages students to get a meningococcal vaccine prior to starting at Penn State. Students who live in university-owned housing are required by law to be immunized against meningococcal disease or to complete a waiver of exemption.

Appointments for meningococcal vaccine can be made at http://studentaffairs.psu.edu/health/myUHS/appointments.shtml or by calling 863-0774.

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