Meningitis case sparks antibiotic push at both U of M and MSU

U of M student attended 2 fraternity events before realizing she was infected
Posted at 5:58 PM, Jan 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-29 17:58:06-05

(WXYZ) — Hundreds of students at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University are being urged to take a prophylactic antibiotic after a student from the University of Michigan tested positive for meningococcal meningitis.

Health officials say that the U of M student attended two fraternity events just days before realizing she was infected.

After taking an antibiotic at the student union, an MSU senior spoke with 7 Action News. She said she attended the Sigma Beta Rho event at Club Rush in East Lansing on January 22nd.

“We work in healthcare, so I just don’t wanna infect, like, other people in case I do have it and might be, like, asymptomatic or something,” she said.

Medical Director for the Ingham County Health Department Dr. Nike Shoyinka said 200 people were at the event.

“Of all the people that the health department has been screening and talking to, as you can imagine, people are worried,” she said.

Shoyinka explained, “We’ve gotten a lot of phone calls from people asking questions about their risk and all of that. Nobody else has been identified to have symptoms that warrant us to think that there was another case.”

To track who the infected person may have come in contact with, the health department goes back seven days from the onset of symptoms.

For the Washtenaw County Health Department, that includes the first of the two events, which took place in Ann Arbor on January 20th. Those who attended the Delta Kappa Epsilon event from 10:30 p.m. to midnight are encouraged to take the antibiotic.

“Now, the exposure for this germ is what we call droplets. So that requires close contact. So saliva or mucus or kissing, sharing drinks,” said Susan Ringler-Cerniglia, public information officer for the Washtenaw County Health Department.

Being in close quarters for a prolonged period is another risk factor, she says.

Ringler-Cerniglia said the initial symptoms are flu-like. That includes fever, stiff neck, vomiting, sensitivity to light, achiness, and confusion.

“It can be very serious, very quickly. So, prompt medical treatment is important,” Ringler-Cerniglia said.

Ringler-Cerniglia applauds the student for coming forward and says she’s in the hospital but improving.

Shoyinka said, “So I would recommend that every college student, regardless of whether they were at the party or not, consider getting the meningococcal vaccine."

The health department says regardless of meningococcal vaccination status, prophylaxis is recommended and “should be taken within 14 days of exposure.”