Three Cases of Meningitis-like Infection Cause Scare

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

The three students who were hospitalized for meningococcal infections last week are now recovering, and the condition of two other students hospitalized with flu-like symptoms is not serious, University officials said yesterday.

Student Health Services sent a University-wide e-mail yesterday afternoon saying the two students were not critically ill and SHS could not confirm whether they have a meningococcal infection.

Most members of the Penn community became aware of the situation Thursday afternoon, when SHS sent an e-mail to members of the Penn community announcing that two students had been hospitalized with suspected meningococcal infections.

At that point, one student was in stable condition, while the second student was in critical condition.

By Thursday evening, University and public health officials had provided preventative treatment to about 100 students who had been in close contact with the two hospitalized students.

On Friday evening, SHS sent a second e-mail announcing a third student in critical condition at the hospital with a confirmed case of meningococcal infection.

They also confirmed that the three students had common interaction through the Greek system.

As a precaution, the University cancelled all official and student-sponsored parties or events that would have involved shared food and drink or close contact over the weekend.

The University further asked that all students who have had any contact with members of the Greek system since Feb. 2 visit a special clinic at SHS, located at 3535 Market St., Saturday morning for preventative treatment.

Around 2,100 students – a quarter of the undergraduate student body – were given prophylactic medication at that clinic.

Additional clinics were held in Houston Hall Saturday evening and yesterday afternoon. By the end of the weekend, almost 3,000 students had received the preventative antibiotic, according to University spokeswoman Phyllis Holtzman.

Another clinic will be held today from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at SHS.

At least two of the hospitalized students lived in the Pi Kappa Alpha house, located at 3916 Spruce St., CBS3 reported Friday evening.

Holtzman said she was unable to confirm whether the two students lived in the fraternity house.

Common early symptoms of meningococcal infection include fever, severe headache, sensitivity to bright light, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, rash and lethargy.

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should see a physician or visit the Emergency Room at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania at 34th and Spruce streets immediately, according to SHS.

Last Updated 2/16/09 | See at The Daily Pennsylvanian

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