Meningitis On Campus
Certain college students are at increased risk for meningococcal disease,
a potentially fatal bacterial infection commonly referred to as meningitis.
Because freshman students who live in dorms are at a higher risk for
the disease, lack of dorm living puts Hudson Valley Community College
students in a lower risk category.
A U.S. health advisory panel does recommend, however, that all college
students learn more about meningitis and vaccination for the disease.
Learn more about this infectious disease. Find out how it's spread. Understand
the symptoms, which are often mistaken for the flu. Learn about a vaccine
that helps prevent meningitis.
New York State Public Health Law requires that all students taking
more than five credit hours complete and
return the following form to the college. This law does not require
students to have the immunization.
Find Out More About Meningitis and Vaccination
For more information about meningitis and the vaccine please read
below or visit your student health service, contact your family physician
or local health department. You can also visit these Web sites: Center
for Disease Control and Prevention or the America
College Health Association.
Did You Know?
- Meningitis strikes about 3,000 Americans
each year and claims as many as 300 lives.
- Between 100 and 125 cases occur on
college campuses every year.
- 5 to 15 college students die each year as a
- Cases among teenagers and young adults
have more than doubled since 1991.
- The frequency of outbreaks has risen at
U.S. colleges and universities during the
What Is Meningitis?
- Meningitis is a rare but potentially fatal
- It can occur in two forms - as either
meningococcal meningitis, an inflammation
that affects the brain and spinal cord, or as
meningococcemia, the presence of bacteria
in the blood.
- The infection can result in permanent brain
damage, hearing loss, learning disability,
limb amputation, kidney failure or death.
What Causes Meningitis?
- This infectious disease is caused by the
bacterium Neisseria meningitidis, a leading
cause of bacterial meningitis in older children
and young adults in the U.S.
Is There A Vaccine to Help
- A safe, effective vaccine is available.
- The vaccine is 85% to 100% effective in
preventing four kinds of bacteria
(serogroups A, C, Y, W-135) that cause
about 70% of disease in the U.S.
- The vaccine is safe, with mild and
infrequent side effects, such as redness
and pain at the injection site. These side
effects last up to 2 days.
- After vaccination, immunity develops
within 7 to 10 days and remains effective
for approximately 3 to 5 years. As with any
vaccine, vaccination against meningitis
may not protect 100% of all susceptible
Is Vaccination Recommended
for College Students?
- Certain college students, particularly
freshman who live or plan to live in
dormitories or residence halls, have a 6-
fold increased risk of disease.
- The American College Health Association
(ACHA) has adopted the recommendation
of the Advisory Committee on
Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the
Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which
states that college students, particularly
freshman living in dormitories and
residence halls, be educated about
meningococcal meningitis and the
potential benefits of vaccination.
- Other undergraduate students wishing to
reduce their risk of meningitis can also
choose to be vaccinated.
Early Symptoms of Meningitis
- high fever
- neck stiffness
- severe headache
- sensitivity to light
- Meningitis usually peaks in late winter and
early spring, overlapping flu season, and
symptoms can easily be mistaken for the
- Because the infection progresses quickly,
student should seek medical care
immediately if 2 or more of these
symptoms occur at one time.
- If untreated, meningitis can lead to shock
and death within hours of the first
Who Is At Risk for Meningitis?
Meningitis can strike at any age; however,
certain groups have a greater risk for
contracting the disease:
- College students, particularly freshman,
who live in campus residence halls.
- Anyone in close contact with a known case.
- Anyone with an upper respiratory infection
or a compromised immune system.
- Anyone traveling to endemic areas of the
world where meningitis is prevalent.
How Is Meningitis Transmitted?
- Meningococcal bacteria are transmitted
through air droplets and direct contact with
persons already infected with the disease.
- Direct contact also occurs with shared
items, such as cigarettes or drinking
glasses, or through intimate contact such