University alumnus diagnosed with meningitis

By Brittany Abeijon

The second case of meningococcal meningitis has been reported within the past week on campus.

A recent University alumnus has been diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, and was admitted to a local hospital Wednesday night according to Dr. Robert Palinkas, director of McKinley Health Center.

He was in critical condition this morning, UI spokeswoman Robin Kaler said.

A female student was hospitalized Feb. 20 with meningococcal meningitis, but was released from the hospital earlier this week. She is expected to make a full recovery, Kaler said.

Health center officials are exploring a possible link between the two cases, Palinkas said.

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McKinley officials have contacted anyone they believe may have been in close contact with the hospitalized student and will be providing them with the preventative antibiotic, Cipro.

Palinkas said the antibiotic is 100 percent effective when there are no symptoms of meningitis, which include high fever, stiff neck and headache. Students with any of those symptoms should seek medical attention immediately, campus officials said.

Today the University plans to post cautionary fliers in dorms, sororities, fraternities and other certified housing units on campus.

Students are warned no to share utensils, toothbrushes, drinking glasses, even lipstick – “anything that goes in your mouth,” Kaler said. “And be careful about kissing people.”

Dean of Students Bill Riley will also ask bar owners to post the fliers, Kaler said.

The caution not to share drinks remains crucial coming one day before the “alcoholiday” known as Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day, when students from on and off-campus crowd into bars and parties throughout the day.

Kaler said the timing is unfortuante.

“But people need to be careful all the time,” she said.