Officials at Smith College in Northampton, MA announced that a student was diagnosed with a bacterial meningitis infection. The student, who resides off-campus, is hospitalized and receiving appropriate care. The College is working closely with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) to notify and treat any individuals who were in close contact with the student.

At this time, officials have not determined whether this case is related to the 2017 meningitis outbreak at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Meningitis is NOT easily contagious like the common cold or the flu. Meningitis is spread through close or intimate contact through infected saliva. Therefore, it is important to avoid sharing drinks, food, water bottles, lip balm, smoking materials, and mouthpieces, such as those found on musical instruments; wash your hands frequently; avoid touching your face; and cover your coughs and sneezes.

Symptoms tend to occur suddenly and worsen dramatically over hours or days. They include a combination of sudden and extreme symptoms that interfere with normal functioning, such as severe headache, sensitivity to light, high fever, purple rash, very stiff neck so that the head cannot be turned or bent toward the chest, confusion, delirium, and mood changes. We encourage students to contact us with any symptoms right away.

All students are encouraged to be vaccinated against meningitis.

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Meningitis symptoms/Public domain image/Mikael Häggström
Meningitis symptoms/Public domain image/Mikael Häggström