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Purdue student diagnosed with bacterial meningitis

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — An undergraduate student has been diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, Purdue University health officials announced Tuesday (Sept. 22).

The student, who lives on campus, has been hospitalized and is in stable condition.

“We’re in the process of trying to establish contact with those individuals who lived or worked closely with the person who is ill,” said James S. Westman, director of the Purdue University Student Health Center. “We’ll ask them to come in and see a health-care worker to receive information about the illness, educate them about the symptoms to watch for and provide a prophylactic antibiotic.”

Meningitis is a rare but serious disease, said Dr. Sarah Sayger, medical director of the university’s health center. It can be transmitted by recurrent exposure to saliva or coughing or other direct contact, but it is not highly communicable, she said. It is considered an opportunistic disease that can attack a depleted immune system. Symptoms include high fever, headache and stiff neck. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, discomfort when looking into bright lights, confusion and sleepiness.

Westman said an effective vaccine for the disease is available and is encouraged for certain high-risk groups, including children and teens as well as some international travelers.

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