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Iowa State University student’s death likely caused by meningitis

BY MICHELLE HILLENBRAND | APRIL 15, 2010 7:30 AM

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After the death of Iowa State University student Travis James Good on Tuesday was linked to bacterial meningitis, University of Iowa officials said students worried about the disease can consider getting a meningitis vaccine.

“That’s something that people who have concerns should discuss with their health-care providers,” UI spokesman Tom Moore said.

Student Health Service offers the vaccine at a cost of $140, according to its website.

Bacterial meningitis causes inflammation of the brain and spinal cord’s membranes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That inflammation can cause brain damage or even death.

While viral meningitis is usually not very serious, bacterial meningitis can prove far more dangerous, Moore said.

If not treated early, bacterial meningitis could cause loss of hearing, brain damage, or death.

Bacterial meningitis, which officials believe caused the ISU student’s death, can be spread by close person-to-person contact, Moore added.

UI officials warned that roommates or significant others of infected individuals are at particularly high risk.

Still, meningitis is not as contagious as the common cold or the flu, according to the CDC.

In November 2009, Kirkwood Community College student Chris Vanspeybroeck died from bacterial meningitis. At the time, officials said five to 15 students die each year on college campuses from the disease.

The National Meningitis Association says adolescents are more at risk for meningitis, with a death rate of one in seven of those infected.

According the National Institutes of Health, symptoms of meningitis include fever, chills, nausea, headache, and stiff neck. Treatment for bacterial meningitis includes antibiotics, but an early diagnosis is crucial, medical experts said.

Some students at the UI said they aren’t worried, because they have received the vaccination. According to the CDC, the vaccine is given to all children in the United States as part of routine immunizations.

“I’m pretty sure I got the meningitis vaccine a long time ago, so hopefully, I wouldn’t be affected,” said sophomore Erin Moreau.

Sophomore Matt Andracki agreed but said students should know about risks.

“I’m not too worried about meningitis, because I’ve been vaccinated,” he said.


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