UW-Madison students hospitalized with meningitis

October 7, 2016

Two University of Wisconsin–Madison students were hospitalized with meningococcal disease this week, with one case being identified as serogroup B. Both students are currently recovering.

Additional details are not being disclosed out of respect for the medical privacy of the students and their families.

University Health Services (UHS) is coordinating with officials from the state and Public Health Madison & Dane County and will continue to monitor the situation. UHS has reached out to individuals who have been in close contact with the patients.

“We are still investigating whether these cases are related. Depending on that determination, a vaccine recommendation from UHS may be forthcoming,” says William Kinsey, MD, director of medical services at UHS. “We are taking this situation seriously and responding based on guidance from public health officials. We will share more information as it is made available.”

Meningococcal disease most often causes meningitis, an inflammation of the lining surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It’s very rare, often comes on suddenly, and can progress rapidly. Symptoms include high fever (greater than 101 degrees F), accompanied by severe headache, neck stiffness and confusion. Vomiting or rashes may also occur. Anyone with these symptoms should contact a health care provider or go to an emergency room immediately.

Meningococcal disease is typically treated with antibiotics. Most students are immunized against serogroup ACYW but not against serogroup B. Serogroup B vaccine has only recently become available. Meningococcal bacteria are spread through close contact with an infected person’s oral or nasal secretions, such as by sharing cups. The UHS website has additional information about meningococcal disease. Additional updates will be shared as they are available next week.

Questions from the campus community can be directed to health@wisc.edu. Students who are concerned or have questions about their health or are in need of counseling or support are encouraged to contact UHS at 608-265-5600. For students experiencing symptoms over the weekend, the UHS nurse line is available at 608-265-5600, option 1.

The Wisconsin Immunization Registry contains records for children and adults who were vaccinated in the state.