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Meningitis Outbreaks Among College Students Imagine waking up one morning with flu-like symptoms only to find out that you have contracted a potentially fatal disease from someone in a class or in your dorm Meningococcal meningitis is a rare but serious infection that occasionally infects college students and others living in relatively isolated confined communities such as dormitories thus making college students at a greater risk for contracting the potentially fatal disease Meningitis is an inflammation of the linings of the brain and spinal chord caused by either viruses or bacteria Viral infections are more common than bacterial infections usually occurs in late spring and summer Viral outbreaks are often accompanied by stiff neck nausea headache vomiting and rash Cases of viral meningitis run a short uneventful course On the other hand bacterial infections are very rare and occur sporadically throughout the year especially in late winter and early spring Bacterial meningitis in college students is most likely caused by a rare strand of the bacteria known as meningococcal meningitis This potentially lethal infection is accompanied by fever headache vomiting rash and changes in mental state The time of progression related to meningococcal meningitis causes grave illness and rapidly progresses to death if untreated Outbreaks of meningitis occur in relatively isolated confined environments such as small communities and institutional settings and have recently become popular on college campuses According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC the incidence of meningococcal meningitis outbreaks has risen sharply in recent years with a total of 33 outbreaks on college campuses alone during the last four years This is quite possibly due to the close living environments that students are accustomed to Since 10 of the general population carry meningococcal bacteria in the nose and throat the disease is most often transmitted through the air via sneezing or coughing and through direct contact with persons infected by the disease The wide spread
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