Local News

Duke University students may have been exposed to bacterial meningitis

Posted November 19, 2018 9:26 p.m. EST
Updated November 20, 2018 5:59 p.m. EST

— A Duke University undergraduate student has been hospitalized with a case of bacterial meningitis, according to school officials.

Duke University officials said they are working to contact those who may have come into contact with the infected student.

Officials with the Durham County Health Department said those most-at risk would be people who came into direct exposure to the student’s saliva through kissing, sharing a drink or prolonged exposure to coughing.

Duke officials said messages have been sent to impacted students, advising them that they may want to take antibiotics “as a preventative measure to lower the risk even further.”

Dr. John Vaughn, director of Student Health Services at Duke, said all students are required to get a meningitis vaccine before coming to campus. The vaccine, though, isn't 100 percent effective.

"Anytime there is an infectious illness on campus, it’s a matter of concern," Vaughn said. "But, really, the risk is very low in this situation."

While bacterial meningitis can be deadly, it doesn't have a high fatality rate in young, healthy people, Vaughn said.

Akshay Gupta, a Duke graduate student, hadn't heard about the undergraduate's illness.

"I wish the university let me know about that," Gupta said. "At least, like, a campus-wide email and maybe letting the teachers know they should let the students know."

Taylor Kohlmann, a freshman, also hadn't heard about the incident.

"I'm not sure how much more there is you can do if you're trying to practice good hygiene already," Kohlmann said.

Students who believe they may have been exposed can contact the Duke student health center while non-students who believe they may have been exposed to the disease can call the Durham County Health Department at 919-560-7600.

According to the CDC, symptoms of bacterial meningitis include sudden onset of fever, headache or stiff neck. Secondary symptoms include nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and confusion.