Breaking News: Thurston resident contracts meningitis

Posted 7:10 p.m. September 11— A Thurston Hall resident contracted meningitis and was taken to GW Hospital Wednesday night, officials confirmed Thursday.

The student, a male freshman, is being isolated and is undergoing treatment, said Isabel Goldenberg, a university physician and director of Student Health Administration.

Officials said initial tests indicate the student is not contagious and will determine the specific type of meningitis from tests that will be completed Saturday. Goldenberg also said the initial tests do not indicate the student has the lethal, bacterial type of the illness, meningococcal meningitis, but will take actions to protect other students from the disease if Saturday tests are positive.

Goldenberg said GW does not need to implement any further precautions until the individual’s tests come back. The Hatchet has learned that the individual is a resident of the sixth floor of Thurston.

The University took action to disinfect the student’s Thurston Hall room Thursday, according to a University press release.

“Student Health doctors examined the patient’s roommate and others who have been in close contact. All appear fine,” according to the statement

Goldenberg said if tests confirm the student to be contagious, students who have been in close contact with the patient will receive preventative treatment including vaccinations and a one-dose oral antibiotic.

Meningitis symptoms can include severe headaches, high fever, a stiff neck, discomfort in bright lights, fever, vomiting, drowsiness and a rash, according to the Meningitis Research Foundation’s Web site. The bacterial form of the disease is highly contagious and spread through exchange or contact of oral fluids, such as coughing or kissing.

“In general there are two types of meningitis,” Goldenberg said. “One is viral and the other is bacterial. Among the bacterial there is one that is very dangerous called meningococcal.”

GW will offer meningitis vaccinations in Thurston Hall on Tuesday afternoon and in Hall on Virginia Avenue on Wednesday evening. The vaccinations remain effective for three to five years.

Goldenberg said GW does not require students to be vaccinated against meningitis, but 60 to 70 percent heed the University’s recommendation. Nationally, statistics show freshmen are more prone to contracting the disease because they often live in close quarters.

“(The meningitis vaccine) is highly recommended but not required,” Goldenberg said. “We only require vaccines mandated by DC law– tetnus, measles, mumps and rubella and chicken pox.”

James Kohl, manager of Freshman Sevices for Living and Learning Initiatives and Jay Jones, executive coordinator for CLLC both declined to comment.

One of the roommates of the individual also declined to comment.

Log on to www.GWHatchet.com throughout the weekend for further details.

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