Jan 252006
Authors: Kathryn Dailey

A CSU student was admitted to Poudre Valley Hospital on Saturday night with bacterial meningitis.

Amy Nielsen , a junior restaurant and resort management major, spent three days in intensive care after her roommate found her unresponsive in her bedroom, according to an article in Wednesday's Coloradoan.

Bacterial meningitis is the infection of the spinal cord and fluid surrounding the brain, said Paul J. Poduska , infection control coordinator at Poudre Valley Health Systems. The infection causes the brain to swell, which may cause damage to the brain or brain stem.

Although less common than viral meningitis, bacterial meningitis is more severe and has poorer outcomes, Poduska said, with 10 to 14 percent of cases being fatal.

"(Nielsen) is very lucky she was found early," he said. "She received terrific medical care."

Young adults, such as those at universities or in military installations, most often come in contact with meningitis.

The infection is spread by close face-to-face or oral contact, such as sharing a drink or kissing. Around 30 to 40 people who were in contact with Nielsen within a week before she was admitted to PVH have been treated with antibiotics.

"If (students) think they've been exposed they need to see us because they need to be given an antibiotic," said Lisa Duggan, immunization coordinator and infection control nurse at Hartshorn Health Service.

However, she said most people who had contact with Nielsen have been treated.

"(Bacterial meningitis) is not communicable by being in the same classroom or living in the same building," she said.

Health officials urge students to get vaccinated, which costs $100. Nielsen's case could have been prevented had she received the vaccine.

Stephanie Ellis , Nielsen's friend and sophomore computer science major, was treated Monday when she visited her friend at PVH.

"Everyone was more concerned about Amy than they were about getting it themselves," said Ellis about herself and Nielsen's other friends.

Ellis had seen Nielsen at school during the week and said she seemed fine.

"It's just crazy because it can hit you like that," she said.

Nielsen's is the second case in Larimer County in the past year. Last Easter another CSU student was treated for bacterial meningitis, but he recovered after a stay in the intensive care unit. His case was not vaccine-preventable.

PVH spokesman Gary Kimsey said Wednesday afternoon that Nielsen is in fair condition.

"She's a very lucky girl," Poduska said.

Kathryn Dailey can be reached at campus@collegian.com.


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