SIU student diagnosed with bacterial meningitis

SIU student remains in the hospital, students concerned

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - The Southern Illinois University Carbondale student was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis on Monday, April 24 and remains in critical condition,

Today we learn he is still in the hospital, but is improving.

It's a serious illness and is being considered a medical emergency for SIU's medical staff.

The medical emergency alert sent to student phone is still top of mind at SIU today, and some students are more concerned than others.

Reiley Duffy, a student at SIU's campus, was one of the students who was not too worried.

"I'm not really worried because one of my friends back home had meningitis before and I know what to expect with that…My best friends here got the email about the student being in one of her classes so that's the only thing I would be kind of precautions about," Duffy said.

Duffys said she will take her safety in her own hands.

"I am making sure I wash my hands after using doors and handles and anything with other students like shaking hands," she said.

Dr. Paul Bennett, the Medical Chief of Staff at SIU's Health Center, said washing your hands frequently is a good practice to avoid illness, but doesn't help much in this situation.

"The good news is it isn't easy to catch it. It has to be very close contact, basically a respiratory droplet – coughing, sneezing, kissing, sharing drinks, sharing cigarettes, sharing utensils, you know very very close contact," Dr. Bennett said. "So typically people that are just classroom contacts casual contact, meeting someone, talking to them, even hugging them is not a big risk."

There have already been about 20 people that have gone to the health center to be checked out. They were treated with an antibiotic called Rifampin as a preventative method.

Bennett explained, "Right now we are asking anyone who thinks they might have been in contact to come in, let us talk with you. Let's evaluate your risk and what kind of exposure you may or may not have had."

According to the health center, that grad student became sick over the weekend.  Monday morning his roommate called an ambulance to their apartment off campus. He was taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed.

Dr. Bennett said those who contract it can get very ill.

"Typically people with bacterial meningitis, which is the most severe kind, are very sick," Dr. Bennett said. "They often have fever, headache, light sensitivity, nausea, vomiting, neck stiffness. They are pretty sick individuals."

The campus health officials said it can progress rapidly, so they say if you feel those symptoms, you should go to the hospital or Emergency Room as soon as possible.

The Student Health Center is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

If symptoms develop when the health center is closed, students should go immediately to the nearest emergency room. Individuals who are not students should go to the emergency room or a primary care provider.

Students who have questions or concerns, you call the health center at 618-453-3311.

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