Case of bacterial meningitis in student tied to Marquette University

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The City of Milwaukee Health Department has received a report of a  case of bacterial meningitis (meningococcal disease) in a student affiliated with Marquette University, and is working closely with the Marquette University Medical Clinic to begin appropriate communication and follow-up with close contacts.

It's a Friday night on the Marquette campus, students, not getting the email they were expecting -- a health warning sent out campus wide.

Marquette University says, as a student has tested positive for Meningococcal Meningitis.

"It's very dangerous because there can be severe health consequences," said Paul Biedrzycki, with the City of Milwaukee Health Department.

Biedrzycki says the student is recovering at a local hospital.

Meningococcal disease is spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions such as saliva or mucus, and is most commonly spread through direct, close contact with an infected individual, which can include kissing and sharing of beverages, eating utensils, and lip balm. It is not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been.

Symptoms include rapid onset of a fever, headache and stiff neck. Other symptoms can include vomiting, rash, and confusion. It can result in serious health consequences and requires immediate medical attention.

Bacterial meningitis can be treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics may also be recommended for those in close contact with an infected person to decrease the risk of spreading disease. There are also vaccines available to protect against certain types of meningitis.

The Milwaukee Health Department says out of an abundance of caution, they've given about 6 people antibiotics who were in close contact with the student.

If you want to learn more about Meningococcal Meningitis, CLICK HERE.

Marquette University released this statement regarding the diagnosis:

A message from Carolyn Smith, MD – Marquette University Medical Director:

A Marquette student has been diagnosed today with bacterial meningitis and is currently hospitalized. The student is stable and recovering. This is an isolated case and no other cases have been identified. Marquette University Medical Clinic is working closely with the City of Milwaukee Health Department to initiate the appropriate follow-up communication with any students, faculty and staff who have had prolonged direct contact with the student. They will be contacted, and the Marquette University Medical Clinic will provide preventive medication (prophylaxis) as appropriate. The student lives in a university residence hall and the student’s roommate has been notified and received preventive treatment. It is important to note that living in the same residence hall does not put students at any greater risk as the disease is not spread by casual contact.

Bacterial meningitis can be treated with a number of effective antibiotics. According to the Centers for Disease Control, meningitis is transmitted through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions (i.e., coughing, kissing). Fortunately, none of the bacteria that cause meningitis are as contagious as the common cold or the flu. Also, the bacteria are not spread by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been. Symptoms generally develop within 3-7 days of exposure/contact with secretions. The Marquette University Medical Clinic website has additional information about meningitis.

Symptoms of bacterial meningitis are the sudden onset of a headache, fever, sore neck and nausea and/or vomiting. Any student having such symptoms should seek medical attention. Students or parents can contact the Marquette University Medical Clinic at (414) 288-7184.