Hepatitis B and Meningitis

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Meningitis Disease and College Students

What is meningococcal meningitis?   What are the symptoms?
Meningococcal disease is a rare but potentially fatal bacterial infection. The disease is expressed as either meningococcal meningitis, an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord or meningococcemia, the presence of bacteria in the blood.       The early symptoms usually associated with meningococcal disease include fever, severe headache, stiff neck, rash, nausea, vomiting and lethargy, and may resemble the flu. Because the disease progresses rapidly, often in as little as 12 hours, students are urged to seek medical care immediately if they experience two or more of these symptoms concurrently.
What causes meningococcal meningitis?   How is meningitis spread?
Meningococcal disease is caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis, a leading cause of meningitis and septiciemia (or blood poisoning) in the United States. There are 12 types of N. meningitidis.    Meningitis can spread from person to person through close contact (coughing or kissing) or lengthy contact, especially among people living in the same household.
Who is at risk?   Is vaccination recommended for college students?
Anyone can get meningitis, but certain people are at increased risk, including:
  • Infants younger than 1 year old
  • Adolescents and young adults 16 through 23 years old.
  • People with certain medical conditions that affect the immune system.
  • People at risk because of an outbreak in their community.
  •    The American College Health Association (ACHA) has adopted the recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which states that college students, particularly freshmen living in dormitories and residence halls be immunized against meninigococcal meningitis. Non-freshmen college students under 25 years of age may choose to be vaccinated to reduce their risk of meningococcal disease.
        Even when it is treated, meningitis kills 10 to 15 infected people out of 100. And of those who survive, about 10 to 20 out of every 100 will suffer disabilities such as hearing loss, brain damage, kidney damage, amputations, nervous system problems, or severe scars from skin grafts.

    Meningococcal vaccine:
    The meningococcal vaccine has been shown to provide protection against the most common strains of the disease. There are currently two licensed vaccines to prevent meningococcal disease—Menomune and Menactra.

    Two doses of MenACWY are routinely recommended for adolescents 11 through 18 years old: the first dose at 11 or 12 years old, with a booster dose at age 16.

    Note: Viterbo University does not require the vaccine for admission, but does encourage all students to consult their health care provider or Health Services for advice on vaccination.

    Hepatitis B: What you should know

    Hepatitis B
    Hepatitis B is a serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the liver. The virus, which is called hepatitis B virus (HBV), can cause lifelong infection, cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver cancer, liver failure, and death. Hepatitis B vaccine is available for all age groups to prevent hepatitis B virus infection. The vaccine is usually given as 3 or 4 shots over a 6 month period.
     What does the term “hepatitis B carrier” mean?
    Hepatitis B carriers are people who have chronic (long-term) infection with HBV and never recover fully from the infection; they carry the virus and can infect others for the rest of their lives. In the United States, about 1.4 million people carry HBV. Each year about 2,000 people in the United States die from hepatitis B-related liver disease.
    How do you get hepatitis B?
    You get hepatitis B by direct contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person; for example, you can become infected by having sex or sharing needles with an infected person. A baby can get hepatitis B from an infected mother during childbirth. Hepatitis B is not spread through food or water or by casual contact.
    How do you know if you have hepatitis B?
    You may have hepatitis B (and be spreading the disease) and not know it; sometimes a person with HBV infection has no symptoms at all. Only a blood test can tell for sure.
     Who should get vaccinated? 
  • All babies, at birth
  • All children younger than 19 years of age
  • Symptoms may include:
  • Eyes or skin may turn yellow
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea, vomiting, fever, stomach or joint pain
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Persons of any age whose behavior puts them at high risk for HBV infection
  • Persons whose jobs expose them to human blood and body fluids

  • Source: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Network for Immunization Information
    If you are pregnant, should you worry about hepatitis B?
    If you have HBV in your blood, you can give hepatitis B to your baby. Babies who get HBV at birth may have the virus for the rest of their lives, can spread the disease, and can get cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer.
    All pregnant women should be tested for HBV early in their pregnancy. If the blood test is positive, the baby should receive vaccine along with another shot, hepatitis B immune globulin (called HGIB), at birth. The second dose of vaccine should be given at 1-2 months of age and the third dose at 6 months of age.
     Is there a cure for hepatitis B?
    There are medications available to treat long-lasting (chronic) HBV infection. These work for some people, but there is no cure for hepatitis B when you first get it. That is why prevention is so important. Hepatitis B vaccine is the best protection against HBV. Three doses are needed for complete protection.

    Consult Viterbo University Health Services or your local County Health Department or primary health care provider for more specific information.

    Viterbo University Health Services Located in Room 3 of the Student Development Center
    608-796-3806 or scdanielson@viterbo.edu
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