Northern Michigan University physician Dr. Tom Schacht has confirmed that an NMU student is being treated for meningococcal meningitis, a bacterial infection that can sometimes be fatal. The student's name is not being disclosed. At last report, she was in serious but stable condition.
Schacht has met with the woman's closest contacts, spoke at a residence hall student meeting, and has addressed each of the woman's classes. Although Schacht has told NMU officials that it is "highly unlikely to have cases of linked meningococcal meningitis," preventative treatment with the antibiotic Cipro has been started for about 15 people who may have had direct contact with the infected student.
Meningococcal meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. The bacterium that causes a meningococcal disease can be found in 5-1 0% of the general population. What causes the bacteria to become invasive in the body at a certain point is not completely understood, according to Schacht, although some research supports the idea that it may be connected to a change in a person's immune system. Meningitis has flu-like symptoms.
Northem's Dean of Students Office is handling all inquiries related to this situation. Dean of Students Ed Niemi can be reached at 227-1700.