Suspected Case of Meningococcemia at Rose Hill


Published February 18, 2010

On Feb. 14, Fordham University students and faculty received an e-mail warning of a suspected meningococcemia case in a female Rose Hill student. Meningococcemia is “an acute and potentially life-threatening infection of the bloodstream that commonly leads to inflammation of the blood vessels,” according the security alert. The alert also said that the student, a second-floor resident  of Alumni Court South, was hospitalized in Long Island. In an effort to maintain the student’s privacy, her name was not released.

The bacteria must be confirmed in a blood test that usually takes 72 hours to complete, according to Kathleen Malara, director of health service at Fordham. The student is being treated as definitely having meningococcemia, despite not having confirmed the meningococci bacteria.

The infection is transmitted through “close, intimate contact with the infected person’s respiratory secretions,” Malara said. She said only those sharing a living space, utensils or close contact could transmit the illness. The student’s room and the dormitory’s community bathroom were cleaned and disinfected, according to the e-mailed security alert.

“If you think you passed the student in the hall at Rose Hill, you have no reason to be worried,” Malara said. “Even if she coughed near you… that’s casual contact. You can’t catch [meningococcemia] that way.”

Students that were exposed will not necessarily become ill, but they could exhibit the following symptoms: headache, fever, rash and/or nausea. The illness may not present seriously, but it has a very rapid onset, Malara said.

“People who are okay suddenly become very sick,” Malara said. The student’s roommates were directly contacted to receive preventative antibiotics. The roommates also worked with University officials to identify other students who might have had close contact with the ill student.

If a student suspects that he or she came in contact with the affected student, Fordham’s safety and security can be reached at 718-817-2222.