Meningitis at Florida State University

Medical officers know more about the FSU student who died yesterday from a suspected case of meningitis.

But more than 24 hours later, they still know very little about the strain of meningitis.

Reporter Ann Howard spoke to a woman who lived to tell what it's like to be infected with meningitis. We know now that student from FSU was a 23-year-old female in her senior year. We also know she was not living in the dorms, but in a townhouse off campus.

In addition to being potentially fatal, its extremely painful. Health officials at FSU are working overtime, answering questions from worried students about a disease most co-eds know very little about

Tracey Bryant, lived to tell what it feels like to be infected with meningitis. When she first learned she had the disease, she was told it should have been a death sentence, it took doctors four days to diagnose her.

Meningitis strikes about 3,000 people a year, and kills as many as 300. Between 100 to 125 cases happen on college campuses. Patients like Tracey Bryant, made a full recovery. Others can experience permanent brain damage, hearing loss, limb amputation, kidney failure, and even death.

This is one of the first weeks that Tracey has been back at work, and feeling more like herself. She said she occasionally has headaches, but is definitely back on track for a full recovery.

The school is not releasing the FSU student’s name to protect her family and friends. But we're told the Florida Department of Health is doing a good job of finding everyone who may have contact with the student, in anyway. Extended Web Coverage

What is Meningitis

  • Meningitis is the inflammation of the tissues that cover the brain and spinal cord.

  • Bacterial meningitis is generally more serious.

  • While meningococcal disease is the main cause of bacterial meningitis, there are many other types including pneumococcal, Hib, Group B streptococcal and others.

How do you contract Meningitis

  • At any given time in the U.S., one person in 10 will be carrying the bacteria that can cause meningococcal meningitis or septicaemia.

  • We carry them in the back of our nose and throat without ever realizing they are there.

  • In a few people the bacteria overcome the body’s immune defenses and pass through the lining of the nose and throat into the blood stream.

  • Once in the blood, they can cause two types of infection; meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia.

  • Scientists do not yet fully understand why a few people develop meningitis or septicaemia from bacteria, which are harmless to most of us.

  • Statistics show that children under the age of five, and young adults, have a higher risk of developing meningitis or septicaemia, although anyone can get these diseases.

  • The bacteria are very weak and can only survive for a short period of time outside the body.

  • The bacteria cannot live long in the air and are not carried on household objects such as clothes, furniture or toys.

  • To contract meningitis, you must be in very close contact with someone before the bacteria can pass between you, and even then it is unlikely that you will develop meningitis because most of us have natural resistance to the bacteria.

Can Meningitis be treated?

  • Meningitis can be treated. However, because it develops extremely rapidly, it is important to know the signs and symptoms, and to get medical help quickly if you think that someone has either of these diseases.

  • At least 95 percent of people recover from meningococcal meningitis, but the recovery rate in patients with meningococcal septicaemia can be as low as 50 percent, depending on the severity of the disease .

  • Both types of infection can kill very quickly if not recognized and treated in time.

Signs and symptoms of Meningitis

  • Rash (although not present in all cases)
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Losing consciousness
  • Severe headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Dislike of bright lights

Babies may also suffer from:

  • Tense or bulging soft spot on the baby's head
  • Blotchy skin, getting paler or turning blue
  • Refusing to feed
  • Irritable when picked up, with a high pitched or moaning cry
  • A stiff body with jerky movements, or else floppy and lifeless

Source: (the Meningitis Research Foundation Web site)