Meningococcal case at Med-Syd residence
By Marshall Bellamy
Authorities have responded to a case of meningococcal — a
potentially deadly infectious disease similar to meningitis — involving
a Western student.
An unnamed student confirmed that one of his floormates at
Medway-Syndenham Hall contracted the infection and is receiving
treatment, adding health officials entered the residence to
treat other potential victims. “They gave a few of us
antibiotics,” the student added.
“There’s one case,” said Bryna Warsawsky,
associate medical officer with the Middlesex-London Health
Unit. “[Procedure is] to follow up the contacts of the
person — when saliva is exchanged, that’s our criteria,” she
added, noting the antibiotics and vaccine are offered to the
contacts whom the health unit tracked down.
“We know none of them are sick,” Warsawsky said
of the student’s floormates and other possible contacts.
“They’re not under any obligation [to take the
antibiotics],” said Thomas Macfarlane, director of Student
Health Services at Western, noting the antibiotic is just one
pill. “It’s highly, highly unlikely there’ll
be more cases.”
“We’re working with the health unit in providing
prophylactics to students who had direct contact,” he
said, adding students should not worry about contracting meningococcal
unless they have had direct contact through the exchange of
Emmanuel Chabot, spokesperson for Health Canada, explained
that cases of meningococcal are reported at the federal level
and are something Health Canada takes seriously, pointing out
that in 2000 there were 240 confirmed cases of the infection. “It
is a disease that is infectious and can lead to death. It is
a concern, but it is treatable.”
Warsawsky stated that on average London experiences one to
eight cases of meningococcal a year, and symptoms are generally
a sudden fever and headaches, along with nausea and a stiff
neck. “Overall, 90 per cent of meningococcal cases will
survive,” she added.
The infection could also lead to the infection of the bloodstream
or to meningitis, which affects the spinal cord and brain,
Macfarlane stressed the fact that further infection of students
is unlikely because few would have had contact with the student’s
saliva. “If you haven’t had direct contact, don’t
worry,” he added.