Student diagnosed with meningitis

A Wake Forest University student was diagnosed Monday with bacterial meningitis, a contagious illness caused by the Neisseria meningitidis bacteria.

Ann Marie Collins, a junior from Glastonbury, Conn., was listed in stable condition Tuesday morning at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

Since the diagnosis, Wake Forest officials have been identifying and notifying students and others who have had close contact with Collins, who lives in Efird Residence Hall. For instance, university officials met Monday evening with Collins’ hallmates. She does not have a roommate. The university also distributed an e-mail message to students, faculty and staff regarding the student’s illness.

As a precaution, the Student Health Service is encouraging those who have had close contact with Collins in the past seven to 10 days to visit the health service to receive a preventive antibiotic. The antibiotic–provided at no cost–is a single tablet of Ciprofloxacin, also known as Cipro.

“We are taking a number of steps to identify and inform those who should take the antibiotic,” said Dr. Cecil Price, director of the Student Health Service. “So far, we’ve had considerable success in locating or hearing from them very quickly.”

Meningitis is an infection of the fluid of a person’s spinal cord and the fluid that surrounds the brain, according to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. The illness can be fatal.

The Student Health Service describes close contact with the student as including:

  • A roommate, suitemate or hallmate.
  • Anyone who shared eating utensils or drinking glasses/cups with the student in the past seven to 10 days.
  • Anyone who has spent more than four hours with the student in a close space (such as a residence hall room) in the past seven to 10 days.

Those who have had casual contact with Collins, such as sitting in the same classroom or passing the student in a hallway or on campus, do not require the antibiotic treatment, Price said.

By late Tuesday morning, the Student Health Service had provided the antibiotic to approximately 100 students. Most had attended a party out of town with the student last weekend. Others lived on her hall in her campus residence hall.

“Ms. Collins had attended a social event over the weekend, and we have heard from most of those on the guest list,” Price said Tuesday. “We will reach any who do not contact us first.”

“By late Tuesday, we will have distributed the antibiotic to nearly everyone who might require it,” Price added. “We are being cautious, so we will probably end up providing it to more people than necessary. But, we prefer to be liberal in our distribution.”

Meanwhile, the university’s Student Health Service is consulting with local public health officials and the division of infectious diseases at the medical center.

Those on campus with additional questions about the matter are encouraged to call the Student Health Service at 758-5218. People may also call the Forsyth County Health Department at 727-8231.

The Student Health Service has arranged to have extra staff available to take calls from students and others, as well as to distribute the antibiotic.

Categories: Media Advisory, University Announcement