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Duke Takes A Shot At Preventing Meningitis On Campus

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DURHAM — The fall semester is under way for most college students in the area. With all the excitement of getting back to school and meeting old friends, there is something important that students need to know about a potentially deadly disease.

If you are a college student, or a parent of one, you should know about a condition called bacterial meningitis. It is a disease that causes inflammation of membranes around the spinal cord and brain.

Duke University is sponsoring a meningitis vaccination clinic Wednesday to help protect thousands of students living on campus.

A recent study showed college students are at an increased risk for getting the disease. Freshmen living in dorms are even more susceptible because they interact so closely.

"The way you get meningitis is through contact with an infected individual such as sharing a glass, cigarette, kissing or just coughing and sneezing," says Jean Hanson of Duke Student Health.

Bacterial meningitis kills in 10 percent of all cases. Brain damage is caused in another 10 percent of patients.

The symptoms start off like the flu, with general aches, pains and fever and quickly progress into headaches, stiff neck and rash.

Without quick intervention of antibiotics, there is the possibility of permanent disabilities or death.

Duke had a outbreak of bacterial meningitis in 1986 that affected 3 students. Health officials say it is better to be proactive than reactive in dealing with this disease.

"The vaccine has been available for many years. It's very safe. There really are no side effects. It's a one shot deal and it's effective for three to five years," says Hanson.

The meningitis vaccination clinic is being held at the Bryan Center on Duke's West Campus Wednesday from noon until 7 p.m. The cost is $80.


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