MENINGITIS HEALTH ALERT AT TENNESSEE TECHNOLOGICAL UNIVERSITY

Campus health officials are taking preventive measures to protect Tennessee Technological University students, faculty and staff in the wake of a reported, but unconfirmed, case of meningitis.

Student David Lee "Tiger" Cavanaugh, 18, was hospitalized yesterday afternoon and is reported in serious, but stable, condition.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with David and his family," said Marc Burnett, vice president for Student Affairs.

Meningitis may be contagious, but there is no reason to panic, say health-care officials. The test results to confirm whether or not the illness is meningitis will not be available until late this afternoon or tomorrow.

Officials at Tennessee Tech have taken the necessary precautions with the medical community and the Health Department, where staff members are contacting and providing preventive treatment to those individuals who have been in direct contact with the student.

Health-care professionals emphasize that the disease cannot be spread through the air. Those who have not had direct contact with the affected person are not at risk.

Tennessee Tech's Dean of Students Office briefed dormitory resident advisers yesterday afternoon. Staff members at Student Health Services are working with students concerned about the disease. The Student Affairs Office is disseminating information across campus. Faculty members are alerting students in classes today.

"Everything the university can do to respond to this health concern is being done, from a medical, public health and student support standpoint," said Burnett.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the brain’s lining and spinal cord, which can be caused by either virus or bacteria. Symptoms are flu-like, including a fever over 101 degrees and a severe, sudden headache accompanied by neck or back stiffness.

Anyone experiencing any of these symptoms or who has questions about the disease should call his or her private physician or the Cookeville Regional Medical Center at 528-2541.

In the past academic year, 83 cases of meningococcal disease were reported on U.S. college campuses, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.