Smith College student infected with bacterial meningitis

Hampshire County

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Smith College said that the student is in the hospital, and they are working to contact anyone who came in close contact with her.

Smith College students received emails Sunday, notifying them of an off-campus student who had contracted bacterial meningitis. Symptoms are similar to the flu, and is spread through saliva and close contact.

Sophomore Chioma Chinwuko from Smith College told 22News, “I honestly I didn’t pay attention to it at all. Maybe students should pay more attention to it. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only student walking around like oh I don’t care.”

The disease can be deadly. The state Department of Public Health said 10 to 15 percent of infected people die despite getting antibiotic treatment.

The college said it is not yet known if this bacterial meningitis case is related to two cases at UMass in 2017.

A bacterial meningitis vaccine was introduced in 2014, but it’s not required on college campuses. After the November outbreak at UMass, Smith College encouraged all students to get the “Type B” vaccine over Thanksgiving break. However, there was confusion about the two injections administered 30-days apart.

“I’m not sure if I’ve had that vaccination or not. In the three years, almost three years I’ve been here, there hasn’t been any massive outbreak of any kind,” said Rebecca Rohrlich, a junior at Smith College.

Smith said students will be notified of about future vaccination clinics once the strain of the infection is identified.

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