Cody's Policy paper

Policy on prevention of Meningitis in the College Atmosphere
Meningitis is a very serious disease. It can cause many problems and in some cases can even prove to be fatal. The infection occurs in the meninges. Meninges are the delicate membranes that cover the spinal cord and brain. It can also be found in a deadlier form, meningococcemia, which is an infection of the blood4. The infection is usually onset from a complication of some other area such as the ears, sinuses, or the upper respiratory tract. Beings that meningitis is so serious, it requires immediate medical attention. It progresses so rapidly that even after being tested, the patient will most likely already be on the appropriate treatment to combat the infection. Untreated infection will lead to permanent neurological damage or death within hours2,3,4,5.
Meningococcal Meningitis is caused by the Neisseria meningitidis bacteria. There are other types of meningitis that are caused by S. pneumoniae and H. influenza type b, however, N. meningitidis is the leading cause of meningitis in the U.S. due to the vaccinations made for the other types. There are vaccines for N. meningitidis as well but only for types C, Y, and W135. Type B N. meningitidis doesn’t currently have a vaccine4. The infection is characterized by several symptoms. A patient infected with meningitis may experience high fever, neck stiffness, confusion, sensitivity to light, vomiting, or even rash4,5. Diagnosis is done via spinal tap. The physician drains spinal fluid and examines it to see if it is cloudy, indicating the presence of bacteria5. Risk factors for meningitis include: living in crowded living conditions, incoming freshmen in college, infants or the very young, poor nutrition, living in unclean conditions, travel to other countries, or smoking (which leads to respiratory infection putting you at risk).
When a person is thought to have meningitis they are immediately put on antibiotics; penicillin, ampicillin, chloramphenicol, and ceftriaxone are examples of what kind of antibiotics the patient may be put on5. This is where the antibiotic resistance comes into play. If these antibiotics are used continually to treat the disease, they will become less affective due to the bacteria’s ability to develop a resistance to the antibiotics. When one bacterium develops this resistance, it passes it on to other bacteria and hosts. This can lead to widespread resistance. There is no reason to let meningitis get this far when there are vaccines for the disease. This is why the Center for Disease Control (CDC) considers meningitis a preventable disease. If a person is vaccinated it reduces the chances of them becoming infected with meningitis. Antibiotics should only need to be used as a last resort if there is no other option4.
There are particular guidelines one should follow when getting vaccinated. Vaccination must be done at a certain age and may even need to be done routinely if the person is in a specific situation. Vaccination is suggested to be started at the age of 11 and should be continued routinely till the age of 18. Then for those who are in high risk situations should continue to be vaccinated routinely in the age range of 19-55. High risk situations include: people in constant crowded environments (esp. environments with meningitis susceptible inhabitants), weak immune system, or immune difficientcy1,2,4.

POLICY
1. The first defense against meningitis is to be educated. So there should be seminars held on campus to give information to students about meningitis.
2. Cleanliness is of importance. Emphasize that staying clean is a good way to stay healthy.
3. Inform the students of the benefits of getting vaccinated. Make the vaccine available at the student health center. (Most of the time the vaccine can be giving for free, if not for free it can be around 65-75 dollars4- CDC.. search meningitis vaccine cost)

When considering whether or not there actually is a need for concern with meningitis, consider that we are currently in a high risk environment for infection. College environments provide a great deal of opportunities to contract meningitis due to the living conditions and lifestyle. One thing holding a collegian back from getting vaccinated is the cost of the vaccine. Scrounging up $65 can be a fairly insurmountable feat, but when you consider what it could cost after becoming infected it really makes it worth it. Another problem with this is the fact that we should be routinely vaccinated, but this is a once a year thing at the most. One more problem with the policy is that it could be difficult to get the students to attend the seminars for information. This can be solved by making them go with their parents on during orientation. It wouldn’t take much to scare a parent into having them get their child vaccinated. That would also solve the problem of listening. If they kids don’t listen it wouldn’t make a difference if their parents were there. The benefits of vaccination outweigh the costs of becoming infected. It also helps minimize antibiotic resistance by bypassing the use of antibiotics when unnecessary.

1. “Teens may not be protected against meningitis C…” Practice Nurse 35. 12. 20 Jun 2008 8. 5 Oct 2008 <http://web.ebscohost.com>. (EBSCOhost search under academic search premier)
2. Traynor, “All adolescents need meningitis vaccination, experts say…” American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy 64. 18. 17 Sep 2007 5 Oct 2008 <http://web.ebscohost.com>. (EBSCOhost search under CINAHL)
3. "Clinical Outcomes of Meningitis Caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae in the Era of Antibiotic Resistance." Clinical Infectious Diseases 2000. 30.06 Jan 2000 71-77. 5 Oct 2008 <www.scholar.google.com>. (google scholar : Meningitis, "antibiotic resistance")
4. "Meningococcal Disease." 5 Oct 2008 <www.cdc.gov> (Go to CDC website and search “meningitis”)
5. "Meningococcal Meningitis." World Health Organization May. 2003 5 Oct 2008 <http://web.ebscohost.com>. (EBSCOhost search under Biology Digest)

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License