UMB student with meningitis remains in critical condition

Fear of exposure draws several to health clinic

January 08, 2001|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,SUN STAFF

A third-year medical student at University of Maryland, Baltimore remained in critical condition last night with bacterial meningitis as a trickle of students worried about possible exposure to the disease visited the university's health clinic.

Christopher Taylor, 27, of Towson was transported by ambulance late Thursday to Maryland General Hospital after complaining of symptoms associated with the potentially deadly disease. He was transferred to University of Maryland Medical Center Saturday night after his condition worsened. He remained in intensive care last night.

University Family Medicine, which counts the university's student population among its patients, opened its South Paca Street offices yesterday to provide counseling and medical attention for anyone worried about possible contact with Taylor.

Four students spoke with the clinic's doctors in person and several others called with questions, said Dr. Richard Colgin, director of student health for UMB.

None needed treatment or a prescription for the preventative antibiotic ciprofloxacin, which already has been administered to Taylor's fiancee and parents, more than a half-dozen university staff members, a few classmates and several patients Taylor had treated on his gynecology-oncology rotation at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

"We've seen and talked to a mixture of people who were overly concerned or not sure what a contact is or whether they might have been put at risk," said Dr. Macaya Douoguih, who staffed the office yesterday afternoon. "We stayed open mainly to reassure people."

Bacterial meningitis is spread through contact with the saliva of an infected individual. The disease can be contracted through kissing, or by sharing a drink, cigarette or eating utensil. Symptoms include fever, severe headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, rash and lethargy. It mainly affects children and young adults.

University spokesman Ed Fishel said Colgin visited Taylor yesterday evening, and the doctor "was more hopeful than I've heard him in the last 24 hours."

Last year, a Towson University student died after becoming infected with the disease. A month later, the state legislature passed a bill requiring Maryland college students in on-campus dormitories to be vaccinated against the disease or sign a waiver declining the vaccine.

Taylor and his fiancee live off campus in a Towson apartment.

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