College Freshmen at Higher Risk of Meningitis

College Freshmen at Higher Risk of Meningitis

March 27, 2000 (Atlanta) — Tall school seniors applying to college for following fall have something else to worry about besides their major and getting into the cool dorm. Agreeing to a ponder from Nottingham College in Britain, warding off bacterial meningitis should rank right up there with deciding which teachers to avoid.

The U.K. think about centers on meningococcal illness, a uncommon but potentially deadly infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis. Though some individuals carry this bacterium in their noses or mouths and never get sick, it is a driving cause of meningitis and septicemia (or blood poisoning) in the U.S.

Meningococcal illness is spread by near contact with an contaminated individual — by sharing cigarettes or drinking glasses, for example, or through intimate contact such as kissing. The infection initially causes tall fever, serious cerebral pains, firm neck, and queasiness or vomiting and may take after the flu. Serious diseases may lead to crabbiness, perplexity, drowsiness, coma, indeed passing.

This type of illness strikes approximately 3,000 Americans each year and is responsible for a few 300 passings yearly. An evaluated 100 to 125 cases of meningococcal infection occur each year on U.S. college campuses, and five to 15 students pass on as a result.

The unused think about, published within the Walk 25 version of British Medical Journal, looked at 2,500 first-year Nottingham University students. Based on tissue tests taken from the students’ mouths, the analysts found that the percentage carrying the infection about quadrupled in the first four days of the 1997 fall term, says lead researcher Keith Neal, MD. The rate went from less than 6% to 23% in fair those few days.

Students living in all-female dorms were at much lower risk. That is likely due to social behavior by the different sexes, Neal tells WebMD. The most common hazard variables that lead to disease, in arrange, were drinking in a bar, smoking, being male, going to nightclubs, and hint kissing. “Guys drinking in bars were [at] particular[ly] high hazard,” Neal says. “We found a lot of heavy drinking.”

Two recent U.S. ponders, one from the CDC and another from the College of Maryland, bear out a few of the British findings. Both appeared that whereas rates of meningococcal illness were no higher in college understudies in common than in other young grown-ups, the rates were three to six times greater among first year recruits living in dorms.

James C. Turner, chief of student health at the University of Virginia, says the Nottingham ponder moreover reaffirms other chance components that have been distinguished in the U.S. “The consider clearly illustrates that first year recruit living in dorms who patronize bars or nightclubs, who are uncovered to cigarette smoke, [and] who drink, are at expanded risk of coming down with this illness,” Turner tells WebMD.

At Nottingham, Neal says, the rate of the illness has been lowered due to an forceful instruction program and meningococcal inoculations. “Educating guardians of the dangers has been extremely viable,” Neal says.

Immunization rates are way up in the U.S., with 341,000 measurements of the vaccine administered in 1999, compared with 13,000 the past year, says Turner, who is also chairman of the Immunization Preventable Maladies Errand Force at the American College Health Affiliation.

One university that provides the meningococcal antibody is the College of Georgia. Agreeing to officials there, the immunization produces assurance against meningococcal disease in seven to 10 days and is compelling for three to five years. It costs $60.

Turner says that telling young people to remain out of bars and do without drinking to avoid meningitis won’t work.

“Parents need to be reasonable,” he says. “The best thing is to immunize.”

Crucial Information: Meningococcal illness, which incorporates meningitis, strikes about 3,000 Americans each year and is capable for 300 passings. A modern ponder from the United Kingdom appears that college freshman are at higher chance of contracting meningitis, and the chance goes up with certain behaviors, counting drinking in a bar, smoking, being male, and intimate kissing. A meningococcal vaccine is available, and experts say that immunization is the most ideal to way anticipate the spread of the infection.

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