For the past three weeks, various rumors have been circulating about the presence of meningitis on campus. However, both the Student Primary Care Clinic (SPCC) and the administration of the School of Nursing have dismissed the rumors, saying they have not received reports of any cases of bacterial or viral meningitis, an inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Dr. Dorrie Fontaine, associate dean for student and academic affairs in the School of Nursing, and her executive assistant, Anne Marie McGowan, both said that the nursing school had not received any notice about cases of meningitis on campus. Dr. Milisa Rizer, medical director of the SPCC, said that though she has heard the rumors, no one has been diagnosed with either infection within the last two months. She said that there were, however, two unrelated cases of aseptic meningitis in late August and early September of this year at Georgetown. Aseptic meningitis is the benign (not immediately threatening) form that may be caused by nonbacterial agents such as chemical irritants, tumors or viruses. Rizer said that this is not the type of meningitis that causes great concern among college campuses. The other type, bacterial meningitis, is the severe, often fatal form, she said. According to Rizer, the last case of bacterial meningitis at Georgetown occurred over two years ago. She added that only one case was diagnosed, so therefore it was not considered an outbreak. The patient was sent home, and all her close contacts received medication in order to ensure that the disease would not spread. Rizer said that Student Health immediately advised all students and faculty. “We put up flyers and notified all the residence hall directors so as to inform students both on and off campus,” she said. The administration also set up a hotline that students could call to ask questions about the infection and its symptoms and treatment. “We also passed out literature about the disease because we knew that in an emergency situation the most important thing was to address the concerns of students and parents. We always do our best to keep the students healthy,” Rizer said. Rizer said that these are the proper procedures as dictated by the American College Health Association and that if ever there were an outbreak of any serious communicable disease, the university would take a similar course of action. Noelle Millholt (COL ’02) said that she first heard the rumor about three weeks ago. “Within a couple of days I heard the rumor from three different sources, so I just assumed that there was some validity to it.” Concerning the spreading rumors, Monica Manginello (COL ’02) said, “All I heard was that there were two students on campus with meningitis and that if another case was diagnosed, the school would be shut down.” According to Rizer, this rumor is also false. She said that the school shuts down if five cases are discovered. According to Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, the onset of meningitis is usually sudden and is characterized by severe headache, stiffness of the neck, irritability, malaise, and restlessness. Nausea, vomiting, delirium and complete disorientation may develop quickly, and temperature, pulse rate and respiration are increased. The Student Primary Care Clinic can be reached at 687-4500.

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