University of North Texas

Division of Student Affairs

Meningitis

Tue, 10/04/2016 - 10:38 | Written for: Student Health and Wellness Center

Important Information About Meningococcal Meningitis 

Effective October 1, 2013 students 22 years of age or older are not required to submit evidence of meningococcal meningitis vaccination. Exemptions from Immunizations for Reasons of Conscience must be requested through the Texas Department of State Health Services; these forms must be notarized and submitted to the appropriate UNT office 90 days prior to the start of class. Affidavits must be submitted on forms issued by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

This information is being provided to all new college students in the state of Texas. To ensure that you have been informed of this disease and its prevention, all new UNT students will, as part of their telephone or web-registration process, be prompted to acknowledge receipt of this information. Meningococcal Meningitis is a serious, potentially deadly disease that can progress rapidly. It is an inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. The bacteria that causes meningitis can also infect the blood. This disease strikes about 1,000 Americans each year. There is a treatment, but those who survive may develop severe health problems or disabilities.

What are the symptoms?

  • High fever
  • Severe headache
  • Rash or purple patches on skin
  • Vomiting
  • Light sensitivity
  • Stiff neck
  • Confusion and sleepiness
  • Nausea
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures

There may be a rash of tiny, red-purple spots caused by bleeding under the skin. These can occur anywhere on the body. The more symptoms, the higher the risk, so when these symptoms appear, seek immediate medical attention.

How Is Meningococcal Meningitis Diagnosed?

Diagnosis is made by a medical provider and is usually based on a combination of clinical symptoms and laboratory results from spinal fluid and blood tests. Early diagnosis and treatment can greatly improve the likelihood of recovery.

How Is The Disease Transmitted?

The disease is transmitted when people exchange saliva (such as by kissing, or by sharing drinking containers, utensils, cigarettes, toothbrushes, etc.) or come in contact with respiratory or throat secretions.

How Do You Increase Your Risk of Getting Meningococcal Meningitis? 

Increased risk includes but not limited to exposure to saliva by sharing cigarettes, water bottles, eating utensils, food, kissing, etc. These factors are exacerbated among those living in close conditions (such as sharing a room/suite in a dorm or group home).

What Are The Possible Consequences of The Disease? 

  • Death (within 24 hours)
  • Permanent brain damage
  • Kidney failure
  • Learning disability
  • Hearing loss, blindness
  • Limb damage (fingers, toes, arms, legs) that requires amputation
  • Gangrene
  • Coma
  • Convulsions

Can The Disease Be Treated? 

Antibiotic treatment, if received early, can save lives and chances of recovery are increased. However, permanent disability or death can still occur.

Do I Need A Meningitis Immunization Before Coming To UNT? 

Effective October 1, 2013 all new students, including transfer students, must show evidence of receipt of an initial bacterial meningitis vaccination (meningococcal meningitis vaccine) dose or booster in the last five years and at least ten days prior to the first day of the first semester in which the student initially enrolls. This new law also applies to any student returning to school after a break in enrollment during fall or spring semesters. Students are not required to submit evidence of vaccination if they are 22 years of age or older or enrolled for online courses only. Click here for Immunization Requirements.

How Can I Find Out More Information?