News Release

Meningitis outbreak in Lafayette prompts warning for Southeastern students

Contact: Rene Abadie


       HAMMOND – With a recent outbreak of bacterial meningitis in Lafayette, the Southeastern Louisiana University Student Health Services is cautioning students to be vigilant about possible symptoms of the disease and to consider getting the meningitis immunization.

       Vera Williams, director of the university’s Vera W. Thomason Health Center, said winter and early spring are peak periods for outbreaks of meningitis, which is frequently mistaken for the flu. The university has sent a mass email to students, faculty and staff reminding them of the risk factors associated with meningitis.

       Williams said symptoms include high fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, confusion, sensitivity to light and a rash. “If a student has these symptoms, he or she should contact a health care provider immediately because prompt diagnosis and treatment are extremely important in preventing complications or death,” she said.

       Bacterial meningitis is spread through close physical contact, such as kissing, sharing food or beverages, eating utensils and cigarettes. Casual contact, such as being in a classroom or simply breathing the air where an infected person has been does not put a person at risk.

       Although meningitis is rare, it strikes about 3,000 Americans each year and claims approximately 300 lives, according to the American College Health Association. Certain college students, particularly those who live in dormitories or residence halls, have a higher risk of the disease.

       Williams said a safe, effective vaccine for meningitis is available at the health unit or through private physicians. Immunity develops within seven to 10 days following vaccination and remains effective for about five years.

       Students can call the health center at (985) 549-2241 for more information.

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