Washtenaw County Health Department: Meningitis Case Under Investigation

YPSILANTI – A confirmed case of meningococcal meningitis was reported to Washtenaw County Health Department on Jan 26. The Health Department is actively investigating with the University of Michigan as well as Ingham County Health Department and Michigan State University. Meningococcal meningitis is treatable with antibiotics. Immediate antibiotic treatment is critical for anyone ill, or to prevent infection for anyone who may have been exposed through close contact.

Meningococcal meningitis treatment should start as soon as possible. Anyone exhibiting symptoms of meningococcal meningitis should be evaluated by a health care provider immediately. Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, headache, stiff neck, vomiting, rash or confusion. Health care providers can diagnose and treat meningococcal meningitis with several effective antibiotics.

“This is not an outbreak and risk to the larger community remains low, but meningococcal meningitis is a very serious illness,” said Juan Luis Marquez, MD, MPH, medical director with the Washtenaw County Health Department. “We are working as quickly and collaboratively as possible to provide information and treatment options to anyone with potential and direct exposure to the known case.”

On Thursday, Jan 20, 2022, the diagnosed individual was present at an event at the Delta Kappa Epsilon residence at 800 Oxford Road, Ann Arbor from 10:30pm thorough 12:00am.

The individual also attended an off-campus ticketed event on Saturday, Jan 22, which was hosted by Sigma Beta Rho at Club Rush, 131 Albert Ave. East Lansing.

All individuals present at one or both of these events, and during the time frame provided for the local event, are considered close contacts and should receive antibiotic treatment to prevent disease (prophylaxis). Prophylaxis is recommended regardless of meningococcal vaccination status and should be taken within 14 days of exposure.

Meningitis is spread through contact with an infected person’s oral or nasal secretions, meaning saliva or mucus. Close contacts are considered those who have been coughed or sneezed on, kissed, have shared the same food, eating or drinking utensils or been in a crowded space with poor ventilation for a prolonged period with an infected individual.

“This is a rare but potentially devastating infection that is vaccine preventable” said Dr. Preeti Malani, U-M chief health officer. “We are grateful for the ongoing partnership with the county health department. Prophylaxis involves taking a single dose of an antibiotic to prevent infection in anyone who might have had close contact with the case patient prior to illness.”

If you are a U-M student and you think you may have been exposed at one of both of the events, please notify University Health Service by completing the online form.

If you are a non-UM student and think you may have been exposed, contact your healthcare provider immediately to receive prophylaxis against Neisseria meningitis. Common medications include ciprofloxacin and rifampin. Your healthcare provider can consult the CDC guidelines if they have any questions. If you do not have a healthcare provider, you can call the Health Department at 734-544-6700 to discuss how to be prescribed antibiotics for prophylaxis.

Meningococcal meningitis is caused by the bacteria, Neisseria meningitidis. It is a rare, serious disease that causes swelling of the membranes around the spinal cord and brain. Symptoms may include sudden onset of fever, headache, stiff neck, vomiting, rash, or confusion.

Meningococcal meningitis is a vaccine-preventable illness, with vaccination routinely recommended for preteens, teens, and young adults. In this situation, information about the subtype impacting the ill individual is not yet available, and preventative antibiotic treatment is strongly recommended for exposed individuals as soon as possible. Eligible individuals are encouraged to make sure they are up to date on their meningococcal vaccination.

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