Midshipman treated for bacterial meningitis

No other cases known after student hospitalized

September 04, 2005|By Bradley Olson | Bradley Olson,SUN STAFF

A Naval Academy midshipman remained in the hospital yesterday, being treated for bacterial meningitis.

The freshman, whose name the Navy would not release, was taken to Anne Arundel Medical Center on Thursday with a high fever, nausea and severe headache.

As a precaution, academy officials gave antibiotics to the midshipmen in his company. A company at the Naval Academy usually comprises about 130 midshipmen.

"The Naval Academy is deeply concerned for this midshipman, and we are doing everything to help ensure he has the best medical care available," academy officials said in a written statement.

Deborah Goode, a spokeswoman for the academy, said yesterday she was aware of no other cases of meningitis among the military school's 4,100 midshipmen.

Bacterial meningitis is an infection of the tissues that surround the brain and spinal cord. Untreated, the disease can cause life-threatening brain damage. Although less contagious than the common cold, the bacteria can be spread through prolonged close contact, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

The CDC has recommended that college students consider being vaccinated against meningitis and other similar spinal and blood infections that kill about 300 Americans annually. Those living in close quarters, such as in dorms, are more than five times as likely to contract meningitis.

In Maryland, college students are required to receive a vaccine or sign a waiver affirming that they understand the risks of meningitis, according to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

That law was passed after four college students died from meningitis-related diseases from 1997 to 2000.

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