Dear John Tyler Student,
A student who attends classes at John Tyler Community College's Midlothian Campus has been diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. Representatives from the Chesterfield Health District have investigated the case and have already identified close contacts to the ill individual who may require treatment with antibiotics to prevent the spread of illness. At this time, the risk to the overall campus community is low. The purpose of this letter is simply to make you aware of the case and provide additional information about meningitis, including ways to prevent yourself from being exposed and becoming ill.
Bacterial meningitis is spread by direct contact and/or droplets from the nose and mouth of persons who carry the organism in their nose and throat. This can occur when an infected person coughs or sneezes in someone's face, or by kissing or sharing personal items such as eating utensils, cups, water bottles, lip balm or lipstick. While it is possible for transmission to occur during face-to-face meetings that are held in confined spaces for sustained periods of time, the risk to students who have taken classes with the ill individual is very low. Transmission is not likely to occur during short interactions in open spaces. For example, you would not be considered at risk for transmission if you pass the infected person in the hall or lobby.
Common symptoms of meningitis include fever and chills, severe headache, stiff neck, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to bright light, and possibly a rash. It can take two to ten days from the time someone is exposed to an ill individual to develop symptoms. In the event you develop any such symptoms, we encourage you to contact your healthcare provider.
The best way to prevent the spread of meningococcal meningitis is to avoid sharing food, drinks, cigarettes, lip balms, or other similar items. These bacteria do not survive for more than a few minutes on environmental surfaces such as tables, chairs, or objects such as clothing.
A vaccine is available for this type of bacterial meningitis for select age groups and risk criteria. If you have any questions about the vaccination or risk of illness, please feel free to contact the Chesterfield Health Department at (804) 748-1205. Students and staff may also contact Ms. Sandra Kirkland, Dean of Students Affairs, at 804-594-1566 or 804-706-5208 for other concerns. In addition, the College will host an informational session with the Chesterfield Health Department tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. for all employees and students. The session will be held in Hamel Hall, room H109, at the Midlothian Campus. Additional general information about bacterial meningitis can be found online at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/Epidemiology/factsheets/pdf/Meningococcal.pdf.
Edward "Ted" Raspiller, Ed.D.
President, John Tyler Community College
Parham Jaberi, MD, MPH