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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Media Contact: Linda A. Acciardo, 874-2116

URI Student Diagnosed with Bacterial Meningitis

About Meningitis

* High fever
* Headache
* Stiff neck
* Nausea/Vomiting
* Sleepiness
* Confusion
Source: Centers For Disease Control And Prevention

KINGSTON, R.I. – April 16, 2003 -- A female University of Rhode Island student and resident of Tucker Hall was listed in stable condition this morning at Rhode Island Hospital after becoming ill Friday evening. By Sunday morning, tests at Rhode Island Hospital confirmed bacterial meningitis. No other cases of the illness have been reported.

URI health, housing and student life officials conducted several information sessions over the weekend with those who have been or may have been in close contact with the student.

When the student became ill on Friday evening, URI Emergency Medical Service ambulance personnel responded to Tucker about 10:30 p.m. The URI ambulance transported her to South County Hospital. She was quickly transferred to Rhode Island Hospital. Physicians at both hospitals suspected bacterial meningitis, and treatments were begun immediately.

The University’s health emergency notification procedure was activated and by 8 a.m. Saturday a health team was assembled, which included Chad Henderson, director of URI Health Services; Jim Hardiman, medical director, Chip Yensan, director of Housing and Residential Life; and others.

The team met with roommates, resident advisors, and the hall director to identify potential primary contacts. On Saturday afternoon, team members met with residents of Tucker and other individuals identified as having had contact with the student. On Sunday evening, the team met with additional persons who were possibly in contact with the student.

All were briefed on the illness, its symptoms, and transmission mechanisms. Those who met the definition of close contacts were offered antibiotic treatment as a preventive measure. About 130 students have received the antibiotic treatment.

Henderson noted that meningitis is transmitted through air droplets and direct contact with a person already infected with the disease. Direct contact also may occur with shared items, such as cigarettes or drinking glasses, or through intimate contact such as kissing. People who have had a close, household relationship with the person for multiple hours are also at greater risk. Sitting next to a person in class, the library, or dining hall is considered casual, not direct contact. Knowing someone who had direct contact is also considered casual contact.

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