CONTACT: STEVE PARROTT
5 Old Capitol
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-0557; fax (319) 335-0558
UI takes precautions after student hospitalized with meningococcal
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Health officials at the University of Iowa have taken
a number of precautionary steps following the hospitalization of a student
with a serious bloodstream infection known as meningococcemia. The student,
who has not been publicly identified, was in serious condition at UI Hospitals
and Clinics Friday, May 8.
Meningococcemia is caused by a bacterium called Neisseria meningitidis..
Left untreated, it can cause severe damage to the brain or other organs
or death. In most cases, it is spread by a respiratory route. Most people
are not at risk. In fact, many people carry the bacterium that causes
the disease without becoming sick.
Prolonged contact with someone who has the bacterium is required to
pass it to another person, said Larry Afifi, head nurse at UI Student Health
Service. "You can't get it just by being in class, by riding on a
bus or by going to the library."
Because the disease is most often spread through close contact with
the person who has it, UI officials have taken steps to identify students
and others who may have had close contact with the affected student. Close
contact can include sharing items such as a toothbrush, drinking glass
or eating utensils, or sharing bodily fluids.
These are the precautionary steps the UI has taken:
* Treating the affected student's two roommates with a drug that works
well as a preventive therapy.
* Meeting with students who live on the same floor of Burge Residence
Hall as the affected student. Representatives from Student Health Services
and Residence Services provided information on the cause and symptoms of
the disease as well as the treatments used to prevent the spread of the
* Contacting other students who have been identified as high risk because
of close contact.
* Because there is currently only one case of the bloodstream infection,
health officials are not recommending the use of a vaccine that is also
used as a preventive measure.
University officials have been consulting with the Johnson County Department
of Health and with epidemiologists at UI Hospitals and Clinics about the
appropriate steps to take in response to the case.
Students or others who have questions about possible contact are encouraged
to call the UI Student Health Service at (319) 335-8370.