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Preventing the Spread of Bacterial Meningitis

May 14, 2012

By Nha Nguyen

EUGENE, Ore. — The death of a female University of Oregon student from bacterial meningitis over the weekend had many people concerned. As a result, since then Public Health and school officials say they’re taking every precaution to make sure students feel safe.

School administrators say they quickly identified people at risk of catching the disease and supplied each one with the necessary preventative medication.

But because Lill Pagenstecher lived in the Chi Omega house — and very close and prolonged contact is key to transmission — some wondered if a full house cleaning would be in order.

“This is a bacterium that does not live outside the human body for very long at all. So it’s not the kind of situation where you would need to worry about touching a door handle or sitting at a table where the patient may have sat,” said UO spokesperson Phil Weiler.

Health workers agree that a house fogging is unnecessary in this case.

They also reference the low risk of contraction.

Only about 1 in every 125,000 Oregonians gets meningitis.

Public Health officials say the disease is rare but not unheard of. Last year, 31 cases were reported throughout Oregon. Of those cases, only two died. Overall, 7 percent of all cases in all of Oregon were fatal.

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