The Ohio University student hospitalized last week with bacterial meningitis has been discharged from O’Bleness Memorial Hospital.
James Gaskell, the Athens Health Commissioner, dispelled the rumors of other cases in the area.
“Typically with … that type of meningitis we don’t see clusters of cases,” he said. “We do not anticipate any other cases.”
Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones said she is discussing with the student the possibility of returning to classes.
Bacterial meningitis is a deadly disease that can kill within 24 hours, making communication crucial, Hall-Jones said. The symptoms can mimic hangovers with ailments such as light sensitivity, nausea, vomiting, lethargy and more.
“The number one concern for Ohio University is the safety and security of our students, faculty and staff,” OU spokeswoman Carly Leatherwood said in an email. “Communication is a critical component for University to keep our community informed when there is any threat to life, health or safety.”
Hall-Jones sent an email Jan. 18 to notify staff and students about the case of meningitis on campus.
Meningitis bacteria cannot survive outside the body for more than a few minutes, so transmission is not likely, but Leatherwood said the custodial staff deep cleaned and sanitized the bathrooms and common area of James Hall, where the student was living at the time.
“I live on the fourth floor and the person (with meningitis) lives on the fourth floor so I was kind of freaking out about it,” Rachael Sizemore, a freshman studying pre-medicine and psychology living in James Hall, said. “My mom was not happy when I told her. She told me to use bacterial wipes on everything.”
It is not the first time a student has been diagnosed with bacterial meningitis on OU’s campus. In 2015, a father reached a $1 million settlement with the university after a lawsuit filed for wrongful death of his daughter in 2010. The father claimed the university failed to warn students about a strain of bacterial meningitis on campus that lacked a vaccine, and Hudson Health Center did not provide proper advice over the phone to the student, indirectly resulting in her death.
“The University’s greatest advice to anyone in our community is to pay attention,” Leatherwood said in an email. “Read the information that the University disseminates, pay attention if you are sick and seek medical assistance.”