Santa Clara University investigates meningitis case

Santa Clara University and County public health officials are warning students and teachers about possible exposure to meningococcal meningitis after an undergraduate student fell ill over the weekend.

The University sent out a warning on Sunday and said that the student who lived on campus became very ill and was admitted to a local hospital.

The school also confirmed that it is working with the Santa Clara County Public Health Department on the case.

The University is urging any students concerned about possible exposure to visit the Cowell Health Center for preventative medication; students with questions can also contact the Office of Student Life at 408 554-4583.

Meningococcal Meningitis is a contagious bacterial infection that causes the protective membranes on the brain and spinal cord to become inflamed.  If untreated it can be fatal or cause great harm.

Symptoms of the disease can develop within a few hours or days of exposure and include high fever, severe headache, and stiff neck.   Additional symptoms include nausea, vomiting, discomfort when looking into bright lights, and mental confusion.

According to the warning sent out by Santa Clara University, “People with meningococcal meningitis are contagious, however, the infection is not easily spread from person to person. The infection is spread by close or prolonged contact. The bacteria are spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions (i.e., coughing, kissing).  Fortunately, none of the bacteria that cause meningitis are as contagious as things like the common cold or the flu, and they are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been.”

The university says that most people on campus do not need to be worried about exposure to the disease and that the health department is working to contact anyone who may truly be at risk.

Santa Clara University does not require students to get any vaccinations, including the meningitis vaccine, but they do encourage to share their immunization records with the student health center.

Read the University Statement on the meningitis case here