Students notified of classmate with meningitis bacteria

A UC Davis freshman who had carried a bacteria that can cause meningitis was discharged from the hospital Sunday, and the campus and county health department continued this week to notify his classmates that they may have come into contact with the bacteria.

The student, who had not developed the rare but potentially fatal disease, was released from Sutter Davis Hospital after he could no longer infect others.

The student's name and other identifying information have not been released to protect his privacy. He has returned home to his family.

No new infections have been reported.

As a precaution, several close friends and associates of the freshman were contacted over the weekend and were provided with antibiotics to prevent the disease.

On Monday, Dr. Michelle Famula, director of the Cowell Student Health Center, spoke with students living in the infected freshman's same residence hall, and she also asked his professors to share -- by e-mail if necessary -- a notice from the County of Yolo Health Department with students in his five humanities classes.

As casual contacts, the classmates and student residents were asked to be vigilant for the symptoms of meningitis, provided with prevention tips and offered contacts for further information.

"The response from the county health department was tremendous," Famula said. "The guidance of our public health officials and their rapid response enabled the campus to ensure the student and his contacts were well cared for."

Early June 4, the infected freshman had a high fever and was taken to a Sacramento hospital, diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection and released, Famula said. When a later analysis of his blood showed the meningitis bacteria, the hospital notified the county health department which then notified the student health center last Friday afternoon. The student was located that evening and went to Sutter Davis Hospital for treatment.

Famula said the freshman had been vaccinated for meningitis; however the vaccine does not protect against the group B strain he was carrying.

In August 2001, the student health center began recommending that all freshmen living in residence halls be vaccinated for meningococcal meningitis. Earlier that month, the Journal of the American Medical Association had published a study that found freshmen living in the close quarters of dormitories were more likely than other students to contract the disease.

There has been no case of meningitis in the residence halls at UC Davis in the last 12 years, and no student case reported to the student health center in the last four years.

Famula said students can reduce their risk of contracting the upper respiratory infection through proper hygiene.

Symptoms for both the bacterial and viral forms of meningitis, which affects membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, include headache, fever, stiffness in the neck, vomiting and eyes sensitive to light. Serious complications of the disease can cause death within just a few days, so individuals who experience these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.

To learn more about meningococcal meningitis, see the student health center's Web site at

Media Resources

Julia Ann Easley, General news (emphasis: business, K-12 outreach, education, law, government and student affairs), 530-752-8248,

Amy Agronis, (530) 752-1932,

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