The Johnson City, Tennessee university issued a release Tuesday evening of at least one confirmed bacterial meningitis case in an off-campus student.

Neisseria meningitidis  Image/CDC
Neisseria meningitidis

East Tennessee State University (ETSU) said an off-campus student was treated for a case of bacterial meningitis and recently released from the hospital.

In addition, a probable case of bacterial meningitis involving another off-campus student is now being investigated by the local health department. That student was evaluated today by ETSU Student Health Services and was sent to an area hospital.

The names of the two students and where they live are being withheld.

ETSU health officials say the risk of transmission is minimal to other members of the ETSU community. The university has a protocol for suspected cases of meningitis, and all protocols are being followed.  The Washington County Health Department has been notified of both cases.

Director of Student Health Services Dr. Lisa Ousley said that anywhere between 1,400 and 3,000 cases of bacterial meningitis occur in the U.S. in an average year.

Earlier this year, an East Tennessee State University dining services employee was diagnosed and hospitalized with bacterial meningitis.

Beginning in fall 2013, all incoming students under the age of 22 who reside in on-campus student housing are required by state law to provide proof of immunization against meningococcal disease within the past five years.


The disease is contagious and can be spread person-to-person through the air by respiratory droplets, such as those produced by coughing and sneezing, and can also be transmitted through direct contact with an infected person, such as by oral contact with shared items, like cigarettes or drinking glasses, or through kissing.  Only people who have been in close, direct contact should be considered for preventive treatment.


Common symptoms of meningitis include fever, severe and persistent headache, chills, body aches, nausea, and neck stiffness.  Anyone who is experiencing these symptoms should contact his or her health care provider. ETSU Student Health Services is open 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page