OSU Student Contracts Meningitis, Second This Year

Tuesday, March 20th 2007, 2:04 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) An Oklahoma State University student has contracted bacterial meningitis, the second student to come down with the potentially fatal illness at the school this year, health officials said Tuesday. The male student, who went to Stillwater Medical Center complaining of fever and nausea, is recovering in an Oklahoma City hospital after being placed on antibiotics to fight the disease, said Lauri Smithee, chief of acute disease for the Oklahoma Health Department.

Fewer than 10 people who had been in close contact with him, including roommates, also have been placed on antibiotics as a precaution, she said. He lives off campus.

"There is no need for alarm to the student body, faculty or general public," Smithee said. "This is not a disease or organism that is readily communicated from person to person.

"People who had casual contact with the patient in a meeting or in a class or saw him at work have no significant risk of exposure."

Smithee did not release the name of the student.

The Oklahoman identified him as Chris Etemadi, 22, a mechanical engineering sophomore and a bouncer at J.R. Murphy's, a Stillwater bar.

The university released a statement saying the student was expected to make a full recovery and that the school has been "assured all those who have been in contact with the student and would need any medical follow-up have been contacted."

Smithee said no evidence has been found linking this case of bacterial meningitis to one reported last month at Oklahoma State University involving 18-year-old sophomore Samantha Ellerbach, who has since recovered.

There were 15 bacterial meningitis cases reported statewide last year, Smithee said. Two of those who got the disease died. The disease involves inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord.

The very young and very old are at greatest risk of contracting the disease.

Symptoms include fever, vomiting, severe headache, stiff neck and confusion. Prompt treatment is key in reducing the severity of the disease, which is spread through saliva.

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