Johnson City

Bacterial meningitis among ETSU students

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - East Tennessee State University learned on Tuesday that an off-campus student was treated for a case of bacterial meningitis and recently released from the hospital.

A probable case of bacterial meningitis involving another off-campus student is now being investigated by the local health department. The director of student health services, Lisa Ousley, told us that student was evaluated on Tuesday by ETSU student health services and was sent to an area hospital.

Ousley wasn't able to tell us if the two students knew each other.

The university has a protocol for suspected cases of meningitis, and all protocols are being followed.  The Washington County Health Department has been notified of both cases.

Ousley explained meningitis can be spread through respiratory droplets like coughing or sneezing, or by sharing drinks or kissing.

"Students sitting in a class with a student that has this infection do not require any kind of prophylactic treatment," said Ousley. "It really is close contact, intimate contact."

All on-campus students 22-years-old and younger are required to have a meningitis vaccine.

Ousley told us students who may have symptoms of meningitis should seek medical care. Symptoms include fever, severe headache, a rash, nausea, light sensitivity and vomiting, she said.

Meningitis is a relatively rare infection with only about 1,400 to 3,000 cases in the U.S., according to Ousley. She said about a quarter of those were on college campuses.

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