March 23, 2009
Dear Students and Staff of Fanshawe College,
This is to inform you that a student who attends Fanshawe College has been diagnosed with probable meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease can cause meningitis (a swelling of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) or meningococcemia (an infection of the blood stream). People with meningococcal disease may have fever, severe headache, a stiff neck, nausea, vomiting and sometimes a red pin-point rash with bruising. Although the chances of someone becoming ill are low, meningococcal disease can progress quickly so it is important to seek rapid medical attention should these symptoms develop.
The bacteria that causes meningococcal disease is carried in the nose and throat. It can spread when nose or throat secretions of an infected person come into contact with the nose or mouth of another person. Sharing of objects that have been in the mouth should be avoided at all times.
Antibiotics are given to people who are identified as close contacts of an ill person. Close contacts of the ill student have been identified by the hospital and Health Unit and are being placed on the necessary antibiotics. Meningococcal disease is not spread through being in the same classroom as someone with the infection, unless there has been an exchange of nose or throat secretions.
There are several types of meningococcal disease. The type in this instance is currently unknown. In Ontario, a routine vaccine is offered to one year olds, students in Grade 7, and to 15 to 19 year olds to protect against one type of meningococcal disease which is called serogroup C. Students who have not received this free vaccine can contact their health care provider, the Middlesex-London Health Unit, or Student Health Services at Fanshawe College to receive this routine vaccine. When the specific type of meningococcal disease is identified in the ill student, close contacts will be offered vaccine if required.
Students should remember not to share anything that has been in another person's mouth. For example, they should not share cigarettes, drinks, water bottles, eating utensils, mouth-pieces unless they have been properly cleaned between use.
Please do not hesitate to contact the Middlesex-London Health Unit (663-5317 ext. 2330) or go to our website at www.healthunit.com if you require additional information regarding meningococcal disease.
Bryna Warshawsky, MDCM, FRCPC Cathie Walker, MScN
Associate Medical Officer of Health Manager, Infectious Disease Control Team