Meningitis Information

Ferris students and their families should be aware of meningitis and the availability of a vaccine to prevent the majority of types of meningitis.

What Is Meningitis?

Meningitis is a severe infection of the surface of the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include high fever, confusion, severe headache, neck stiffness, and sometimes a skin rash. A person with these symptoms requires prompt medical attention, preferably in an emergency room setting. Left untreated, some types of meningitis can lead to loss of limbs or death.

Meningitis strikes about 3,000 Americans each year and claims up to 300 lives annually. About 100 to 125 cases occur on college campus every year and about 10 students die as a result. The frequency of outbreaks has risen at US college campuses.

Are There Different Types of Meningitis?

Different viruses and bacteria can cause meningitis. A particularly severe type of meningitis is caused by a bacterium, Neisseria meningitidis, also called Meningococcus.

Is There A Vaccine Available?

A vaccine is available for prevention of meningitis caused by four of the subgroups of the Neisseria meningitidis bacteria. These subgroups cause the majority of the cases of Neisseria meningitidis meningitis.

Is The Vaccine Safe?

The vaccine appears to be very safe with usually mild side effects such as redness and pain at the injection site.

What Is The Significance Of The Vaccine For College Students

College students comprise one of the groups which have a greater risk of contracting the disease because students live in such close proximity to each other. Residence hall students have a six-fold increased risk of meningitis.

How Long Does The Vaccine Give Protection?

Immunity from the vaccine appears to last 3 to 5 years and perhaps longer.

Should I Get The Vaccine?

The American College Health Association has adopted the recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which says that college students, particularly freshmen on campus, be educated about meningitis and the benefits of vaccination.

If you have not received this vaccine previously, the Birkam Health Center recommends you strongly consider it. College age students, particularly those living in a residence hall environment have an increased risk of being exposed to and potentially getting the disease.

More information on vaccine recommendations can be found at:  http://www.acha.org/Topics/meningitis.cfm

Where Can I Get The Vaccine?

The Menactra vaccine is available at the Birkam Health Center. An appointment can be made by calling 231 591-2614.