250 students get antibiotics to help ward off meningitis Towson University takes preventive measures after case is diagnosed

October 31, 1998|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF

Towson University's health center administered antibiotics to nearly 250 students yesterday as preventive medicine against bacterial meningitis, after a freshman was diagnosed with the disease on Thursday.

The student, a member of the Kappa Delta sorority who lives on the third floor of Scarborough Hall dormitory, was hospitalized after she suffered headaches, stiffness and a sore throat, said school officials, who declined to identify the student or release her condition.

Dr. Jane L. Halpern, director of the student health center, said none of the students who came to the university's Dowell Health Center showed symptoms of the disease.

She said the only people at risk are those who had prolonged contact with the student, such as a roommate, or someone who drank from the same glass or kissed the young woman.

"Sitting next to somebody in class or studying in the library is not the kind of exposure" that puts someone at risk of contracting meningococcal meningitis, the doctor said. Meningitis is an inflammation of the membrane surrounding the brain or spinal cord.

The health center remained open late Thursday night and last night and planned extended weekend hours to accommodate students who might be at risk. The university sent an e-mail to all 15,000 students Thursday warning them they might need to be evaluated by a physician.

A Baltimore County health official said yesterday the Health Department advised the Towson restaurant TGIFriday's -- where the ill student attended a party Saturday night -- to inform its staff of the meningitis case in the event any restaurant employees had close contact with the student.

The case is the 28th reported case of meningitis this year in Maryland, including six fatalities, state health officials said.

Pub Date: 10/31/98

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