Penn State

Penn State reports case of bacterial meningitis

The Student Health Center on Penn State’s campus.
The Student Health Center on Penn State’s campus. Centre Daily Times, file

A Penn State student has been treated for meningococcal meningitis and is recovering at Mount Nittany Medical Center, according to a news release from the university on Monday.

University Health Services is working with the state Department of Health to monitor the case, Penn State said. Close contacts of the student, who lives on campus, have been notified and provided with the appropriate antibiotic prophylaxis.

Meningococcal meningitis is a form of bacterial meningits that’s treated with antibiotics, according to the university.

“When someone has meningococcal meningitis, the bacteria infect the protective membranes covering their brain and spinal cord and cause swelling,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The university said that most people recover from meningitis, but serious complications, including death, can occur in as little as a few hours if the infection goes untreated.

Penn State urges students who experience symptoms to seek medical attention immediately. According to the university, symptoms include sudden onset of fever, headache and stiff neck. Other symptoms are nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and confusion or altered mental status.

College students are “especially” at risk of bacterial meningitis due to living in close quarters, as it spreads through close contact with an infected individual, including kissing, sharing food or drinks, or breathing in bacteria spread by sneezing or coughing, according to the university.

Because of that risk, Penn State, in accordance with state law, requires that all students who live in university housing must provide proof of the meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4). UHS also recommends that students receive the meningococcal vaccine for serogroup B (MenB).

“Like with any vaccine, however, the vaccines that protect against these bacteria are not 100 percent effective, as they do not protect against all strains of each bacteria,” Penn State said.