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Archive for Thursday, February 14, 2002

Viral case comes on heels of professor contracting more dangerous bacterial variety of disease

February 14, 2002

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For the second time in two weeks, someone at Kansas University has been diagnosed with meningitis.

But this time, the diagnosis  for a first-year law student  is viral meningitis, less serious than the bacterial meningitis an education professor was diagnosed with last week.

"Though we are very concerned about the student and glad that he appears to be recovering without any difficulties, we are always relieved when it is viral meningitis instead of bacterial because there tends to be a lesser chance of other people contracting this disease," said Dr. Myra Strother, chief of staff at KU's Watkins Student Health Center.

The 29-year-old law student, whose name wasn't released, was admitted Tuesday to Shawnee Mission Medical Center in Merriam. He is expected to make a full recovery.

Both types of meningitis are infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord, and both have similar symptoms, including fever, headache, stiff neck, tiredness, rash, sore throat and vomiting.

But unlike bacterial meningitis, which can be deadly, viral meningitis typically clears up within a week or two without treatment. Many people who think they have the flu actually may have viral meningitis, Strother said.

Bacterial meningitis is spread more easily than viral meningitis.

Though many cases of viral meningitis go untreated, the law student's illness is particularly severe, Strother said. The student, who lives in Lenexa, is receiving pain medication and fluids and is expected to be released from the hospital today, she said.

Strother met with about 150 first-year law students Wednesday to explain the situation. With Steven White, an education professor, diagnosed with bacterial meningitis last week, Strother said she wanted to make sure students weren't worried about their situation.

"We know how that stuff goes like wildfire," she said. "We wanted to make sure they understood."

However, she urged the students to bolster their immune systems by getting plenty of sleep, avoiding alcohol, exercising, eating well and washing their hands to avoid such viruses.

White was released from the hospital Saturday and is expected to make a full recovery.

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