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February 18, 2013

Oswego County Health Officials Investigate Suspected Case of Bacterial Meningitis at SUNY Oswego

OSWEGO - The Oswego County and New York State health departments and SUNY Oswego health officials are investigating a suspected case of bacterial meningitis at SUNY Oswego.

Jiancheng Huang, Oswego County Director of Public Health, said an 18-year-old female college freshman was taken by ambulance to SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse early Monday morning, Feb. 18, as a suspected case of bacterial meningitis. She was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit at SUNY Upstate.

Bacterial meningitis is a relatively rare but serious illness in which bacteria infect the covering of the brain and the spinal cord. The disease is spread by air through droplets of respiratory secretions and direct contact with an infected person, such as sneezing and coughing, sharing food items, a drinking glass, a cigarette or kissing. Symptoms of meningitis may include fever, severe headache or neck ache, chills, mental confusion, stiff neck, vomiting and sensitivity to light.

The county and state health department staffs are working closely with Oswego State staff to make sure that persons who had close contact with the student receive preventive medication.

Only those persons who were in close contact with the infected student are at risk of infection. Persons who may have had close contact with the individual student, who have an illness with these symptoms, are being advised to seek immediate medical attention.

A vaccine protects against some strains of meningococcal bacteria. The New York State Public Health Law (Section 2167) requires college students to obtain the vaccine or sign a waiver for the vaccine.

More information about bacterial meningitis and the vaccine is available at these Web sites: http://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/, http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/vis/downloads/vis-mening.pdf; http://www.oswego.edu; http://www.oswego.edu/student/health/walker_health_center/meningitis_faq.html; and http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/pneumococcal/fact_sheet.htm

For more information, call the Oswego County Health Department weekdays at 315-349-3547 or the Dr. Mary Walker Health Center at 315-312-4100. Holidays, evenings and weekends, call the Health Department´┐Żs answering service at 315- 341-0086.

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