Anyone who attended two college fraternity events — one Jan. 20 in Ann Arbor and another Jan. 22 in East Lansing — may have been exposed to meningococcal meningitis and should start antibiotic treatment immediately, health officials warned Thursday.
A case of the rare and serious bacterial infection, which can cause swelling of the membranes around the spinal cord and brain and may lead to death, was confirmed in a University of Michigan student who attended an event 10:30 p.m.-12 a.m. Jan. 20 at the Delta Kappa Epsilon residence, 800 Oxford Road, Ann Arbor.
The student also attended an event near the Michigan State University campus. It was a ticketed event Jan. 22 hosted by Sigma Beta Rho at Club Rush, 131 Albert Ave., East Lansing.
“Immediate antibiotic treatment is critical for anyone ill or to prevent infection for anyone who may have been exposed through close contact,” the Washtenaw County Health Department advised.
Even those who have been vaccinated against bacterial meningitis should still get antibiotic treatment, such as ciprofloxacin and rifampin.
“Prophylaxis involves taking a single dose of an antibiotic to prevent infection in anyone who might have had close contact with the case patient prior to illness,” said Dr. Preeti Malani, U-M’s chief health officer.
Symptoms may include fever, headache, stiff neck, vomiting, rash, or confusion and typically begin within 10 days after exposure, but usually within the first five days.
Anyone with symptoms should seek an immediate evaluation from a health care provider.
Meningitis is spread through contact with the saliva or nasal secretions of an infected person — whether through coughing, sneezing, sharing food or drink or kissing. It also can spread when an infected person is in a crowded space with poor ventilation for a prolonged period of time with others.
Public health officials say anyone who attended either event is considered exposed and should receive antibiotic treatment. They also should check their vaccination status to ensure they’ve gotten a meningococcal disease vaccination.
“This is not an outbreak and risk to the larger community remains low, but meningococcal meningitis is a very serious illness,” Dr. Juan Luis Marquez, medical director of the Washtenaw County Health Department, said in a statement. “We are working as quickly and collaboratively as possible to provide information and treatment options to anyone with potential and direct exposure to the known case.”
How to get antibiotics if you were exposed
If you’re a student at the University of Michigan: Notify University Health Services by completing the following online form: tinyurl.com/3kxjhb49.
If you are a not a U-M student: Contact your health care provider immediately. If you do not have a health care provider, call the county health department at 734-544-6700.
If you are an MSU student or live in Ingham County: Antibiotic treatments are being distributed for free through the county health department and MSU. Distribution clinics will give away the medicine 1-5 p.m. Jan 28-29 in the MSU Room on the third floor of the MSU Union Building. Enter the Union from the entrance off of Abbott Road and take the stairs to the third floor. Parking will be available in Ramp 6 off Grand River.
If you are unable to attend a distribution clinic, contact your health care provider to get antibiotics. If you do not have a health care provider, call the county health department at 517-887-4308 (or after hours call 517-342-9987).
“At this time, no MSU students have shown symptoms suggesting an infection,” Ingham County Medical Director Dr. Adenike Shoyinka said in a statement. “Early treatment for close contacts will aid us in containing further spread.”
Contact Kristen Shamus: email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @kristenshamus.