Local News

Rush Is On To Help College Students After Meningitis Diagnosis

Posted October 29, 2004 4:20 a.m. EDT

— Hundreds of people in Raleigh and Chapel Hill are lining up at college health departments for antibiotics to protect against meningitis.

A University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill freshman who went to a party near North Carolina State University last Friday and spent time at a restaurant on Franklin Street a few days later has come down with bacterial meningitis.

Jonathan Davis, 18, was diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis and is hospitalized at UNC Hospitals in serious condition.

Health officials have reason to believe hundreds of people came in contact with Davis at a party Friday night at 611 Chamberlain St. in Raleigh.

Anyone who attended the party after 10 p.m., or anyone who has had contact with Davis within the last 10 days also needs to be treated. Davis stayed with friends at University Towers on N.C. State's campus. Residents there are also heeding the warning.

Orange County health officials said anyone who was with Davis at Chapel Hill's Top of the Hill Restaurant on Oct. 26 should also seek treatment.

Close contact means people who shared a household with the student or had direct contact with oral secretions. Examples of close contact include kissing, sharing a drink, sharing food from the same plate, sharing a cigarette, or being coughed or sneezed upon.

Even roommates and classmates should seek treatment as a precaution.

"This bacteria is very serious," said Gibbie Harris, Wake County Health director. "It causes inflammation of the spinal cord in the brain, which can lead to all kinds of complications if it's not treated -- including death."

Even people who have had the vaccine need to be aware. The vaccine does not protect against all meningitis strains. In fact, Davis was vaccinated last spring.

Officials said more than 500 students have taken an antibiotic at UNC's campus while at least 400 students have taken it at N.C. State.

Symptoms of meningitis include fever, nausea and vomiting, severe headache, sensitivity to light, stiff neck, red or purple-red rash anywhere on the body, sleepiness and confusion.

The treatment consists of a single dose of the antibiotic, Ciprofloxacin, which is taken orally.

Exposed individuals who have had the meningococcal vaccine should still get preventive treatment because the vaccine does not cover all strains of bacteria that cause meningitis.

Health officials said Davis received the vaccine last spring.

Anyone who has been in close contact with Davis should contact UNC Student Health Service at (919) 966-6573 or N.C. State Student Health Services at (919) 515-2563.

The NCSU Student Health Center, located at 2815 Cates Ave., is offering the preventive treatment at no charge for anyone, student or non-student, who was exposed. The treatment is being dispensed from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday.

Health officials said those needing preventive treatment should get their medication by Saturday.