Student death prompts meningitis worry

POSTED: 6:39 PM Sep 11 2012   UPDATED: 6:14 PM Sep 11 2012
MENINGITIS
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. -

The death of a Middle Tennessee State University student is sparking concern on college campuses across the state.

The 18-year-old died suddenly on Monday, and health officials believe it's from a highly contagious form of bacterial meningitis.

Dr. Lisa Ousley heads ETSU’s student health care services. "It's highly infectious," she explained. "Because of how infectious it is, close quarters, and the low population of vaccination, it a huge concern for our student body."

The infection attacks the brain and spinal cord and can take a life in less than a day.

ETSU students are noticing the concerns from middle Tennessee. "[It’s] surprising it's so close,” says Dustin Sims. “It opens your eyes."

Sims says he's now rethinking his decision to opt out of the meningitis vaccine. While the vaccine is not required, students must say if they have had the vaccine, are currently receiving it or if they decided not to receive it.

Less than 10 percent of ETSU students receive the vaccine. "It's not required,” says Sims, “there is no need to go out of the way."

Some students say if there was more awareness about the dangers of meningitis more students would likely choose the vaccine.

"I've been here a couple of weeks and I've yet to hear about it, or Northeast State [Community College] where I was first," says student Jordan Wheelock.