Johnson City

Viral vs. bacterial meningitis

Meningitis 9-12

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - The recent death of a Middle Tennessee State student is raising new concerns and questions here about meningitis.

We've learned more than 2,300 people came in contact with the student.

News 5 has learned ETSU gives their students a waiver that asks them to clarify if they have had immunizations for meningitis or if they opted out.

We learned that most students do not take the vaccine and junior Adam Jarvis tells me he thinks it is the lack of knowledge about meningitis. "The thing that it really comes down to is education of our students and population," said Jarvis.

We learned there are actually various types of meningitis that people should be looking out for. "They can be caused by fungus, protozoa, viruses or bacteria," said urgent care physician Sonya Saadati.

The most common form of meningitis is a virus, which has cold and flu-like symptoms.

News 5 discovered the virus does not have a treatment and can last up to two weeks, but do not worry -- Dr. Sonya Saadati tells us you have nothing to worry about. "These are generally less severe and dangerous then a bacterial meningitis," said Saadati.

We learned that the vaccine only prevents the most common type of deadly bacterial meningitis

News 5 searched for the facts and found out the symptoms include a severe headache, stiff neck, fever, nausea and confusion according to Dr. Saadati.

She continued to add that students in dorms should be highly recommended to take the vaccine.

ETSU Dean of Students Joe Sherlin tells us that is exactly what they do. "We advise all of our students upon entry of the risks associated with meningitis," said Sherlin.

He continued to say they cannot force it on the students, though. "Until the policy is changed at the state level, we would continue to follow the CDC recommendation which does not mandate that immunization," said Sherlin.

We spoke with a representative of ETSU this afternoon and they did tell us that although they are not requiring the vaccine for the students, they will be sending out an informative email telling students of the symptoms of meningitis and how to prevent getting it.

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