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A&M-College Station death raises concerns

By Caleb Slinkard
On February 22, 2011


An A&M-College Station student's death of bacterial meningitis earlier this month has raised concerns at local universities regarding student health. The case, which was the first deadly case of meningitis at A&M-College Station, brought into question an A&M-College Station policy that required students who lived on campus to be vaccinated against the disease but had no such requirements for off-campus students.

According to A&M-Commerce Student Health Services staff member PA-C Maxine Mendoza-Welch, A&M-Commerce has no such requirements for on or off-campus students.

"Students living on campus can refuse the vaccination," she said.

The disease, which exhibits flu-like symptoms at early stages, can result in brain injury, the loss of a limb or even death. According to Mendoza-

Welch, there have been no known cases of meningitis on the A&M-Commerce campus this semester.

"Meningitis is a virus or fungus that affects the covering of the brain or spinal chord," she said. "Individuals can contract it if coughed on by someone who has the infection, contact with saliva, either through kissing, sharing chapstick or drinking after someone."

The best way to avoid the disease is to get vaccinated, Mendoza-Welch said.

"I would strongly suggest that every A&M-Commerce student get vaccinated," she said. "Student Health Services offers to vaccine, but, even though we offer it at cost, it is still $110," she said. "I was a student once, and I know that is a lot of money, but the Hunt County Health Department in Greenville offers the same shot for $5."

A&M-Commerce students can further protect themselves from contracting bacterial meningitis by using common sense.

"Avoid drinking after other people, avoid contact with people if they are sick, and wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands," Mendoza-Welch said.

There is an entire page of the A&M-Commerce website dedicated to informing students about this disease.

"Bacterial Meningitis is a serious, potentially deadly disease that can progress quickly," the A&M-Commerce website reads. "Each year approximately 3,000 Americans contract this disease. Of these, 100-125 cases occur on college campuses with anywhere from 5-15 resulting in death. While there is a treatment for this disease, those who survive may develop severe health problems or disabilities. To avoid this risk, every precaution should be observed."

Students interested in finding out more information about how to prevent meningitis or receive a vaccination for the infection can contact A&M-Commerce Student Health Services at 903-886-5853 or the Hunt County Health Department at 903-408-4140.

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