Loyola student diagnosed with possible meningitis

A Loyola University Maryland student has been diagnosed with possible bacterial meningitis and is in serious condition at local hospital, school officials said Thursday.

Loyola spokesman Nick Alexopulos said the diagnosis is pending laboratory confirmation but said that there likely wasn't a significant health risk to its community. School health officials are evaluating the student's roommates and other close contacts, Alexopulos said.

The last known case of meningitis on the Baltimore school's campus was last February, school officials said.

Bacterial meningitis is an infection of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord, the meninges. It is spread via direct close contact with an infected person's saliva, mucous or nose secretions. Its symptoms include high fever, vomiting and severe headache, those often associated with the flu.

Dr. Charles A. Haile, chief of the Division of Infectious Disease at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, said the infection can be fatal if untreated and can also lead to problems with hearing and intellectual capacity.

"In this situation, it is meningococcal meningitis, and it occurs particularly in populations where there are generally young adults and classically in areas of a large cluster of people, such as a college dorm or military barracks," Haile said. "Young people are particularly at risk. Older people usually have developed some kind of immunity to it. It is unusual for people over 30 to develop it."

The infection is treated with intravenous antibiotics, Haile said.

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