Bacterial meningitis is a serious, potentially deadly disease that can progress extremely fast - so take utmost caution. It is an inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. The bacteria that cause meningitis can also infect the blood. This disease strikes about 3,000 Americans each year, including 100-125 on college campuses, leading to 5-15 deaths among college students every year. There is a treatment, but those who survive may develop severe health problems or disabilities.
Bacterial Meningitis Vaccination Requirement
During the last Texas legislative session, Texas House Bill 4189 (HB 4189) was passed and signed into law by Governor Rick Perry. HB 4189 requires that any incoming new student who lives on campus must either receive a vaccination against bacterial meningitis or meet certain criteria for declining such a vaccination before they can live on campus.
Beginning on January 1, 2010, incoming students who live in on-campus housing will be required to provide either evidence of vaccination against bacterial meningitis or a signed affidavit declining the vaccination prior to living on campus. Students will not receive a housing assignment until one of the following documents is received by the Department of Residential Life and Housing. Priority date for assignment will be the date that all documentation has been received.
ONE OF THE FOLLOWING IS REQUIRED
- Evidence the student has received the vaccination (student must have received vaccination at least 10 days prior to living on campus) must be submitted in one of the following three formats:
- A document bearing the signature or stamp of the physician or his/her designee, or public health personnel (must include the month, day, and year the vaccination was administered). OR
- An official immunization record generated from a state or local health authority (must include the month, day, and year the vaccination was administered). OR
- An official record received from school officials, including a record from another state (must include the month, day, and year the vaccination was administered).
- Evidence the student is declining the vaccination must be submitted in one of the following two formats:
- An affidavit or a certificate signed by a physician who is duly registered and licensed to practice medicine in the United States, in which it is stated that, in the physician’s opinion, the vaccination required would be injurious to the health and well-being of the student. OR
- An affidavit signed by the student stating that the student declines the vaccination for bacterial meningitis for reasons of conscience, including a religious belief. A conscientious exemption form ("Affidavit Request for Exemption from Immunizations for Reasons of Conscience") from the Texas Department of State Health Services must be used.
If you have not already received the meningococcal (meningitis) vaccine, contact your primary healthcare provider or your local public health clinic to determine availability. Most large pediatrician offices offer the vaccine and the cost will depend on your insurance coverage. Most local health departments will offer the vaccine at a low cost. However, these offices offer limited vaccination times so be sure to call ahead.
|WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
|Confusion and sleepiness
|Rash or purple patches on skin (caused by bleeding under the skin)
|The more symptoms, the higher the risk. When these symptoms appear, seek immediate medical attention.
HOW IS BACTERIAL MENINGITIS DIAGNOSED?
Diagnosis is made by a medical provider and is usually based on a combination of clinical symptoms and laboratory results from spinal fluid and blood tests. Early diagnosis and treatment can greatly improve the likelihood of recovery.
HOW IS THE DISEASE TRANSMITTED?
The disease is transmitted when people exchange saliva (such as by kissing or by sharing drinking containers, utensils, cigarettes, toothbrushes, etc.) or come in contact with respiratory or throat secretions.
HOW DO YOU INCREASE YOUR RISK OF GETTING BACTERIAL MENINGITIS?
Your risk is increased through exposure to saliva by sharing cigarettes, water bottles, eating utensils, food, kissing, etc., or by living in close conditions (such as sharing a room/suite in a dorm or group home).
WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES OF THE DISEASE?
Death (in 8 to 24 hours from seemingly healthy to dead)
Hearing loss, blindness Permanent brain damage Gangrene
Limb damage (fingers, toes, arms, legs) that require amputation
CAN THE DISEASE BE TREATED?
Antibiotic treatment, if received early, can save lives and increase chances of recovery. However, permanent disability or death can still occur. Vaccinations are available and should be considered for those living in close quarters and for college students 25 years old or younger. Vaccinations are effective against four of the five most common bacterial types that cause 70% of the disease in the United States (but do not protect against all types of meningitis). Vaccinations take seven to ten days to become effective, with protection lasting three to five years. The cost of vaccine varies, so check with your health-care provider. Vaccination is very safe. Most common side effects are redness and minor pain at injection site for up to two days.
HOW CAN I FIND OUT MORE INFORMATION?
Contact your health-care provider or the Student Health Center at Texas Southern University, (713) 313-7173 or (713) 313-7174. Or, call your local or regional Texas Department of Health office at (713) 767-3000
web sites: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/meningococcal_g.htm www.achca.org