Dear faculty, students and staff,
A staff member in the School of Education has been diagnosed with meningitis caused by bacteria named Streptococcus pneumoniae. Streptococcus pneumoniae meningitis should not be mistaken for Neisseria meningitides meningitis. Both are caused by bacteria, but only Neisseria meningitides poses a concern for spreading to contacts.
Streptococcus pneumoniae is a common bacteria found in the nose and throat of healthy individuals. The bacteria can cause severe illness in children, the elderly and other people with weakened immune systems. Streptococcus pneumoniae is the most common cause of ear infections (otitis media) and sepsis (blood infection) in children as well as pneumonia in immunocompromised individuals and the elderly. In unusual circumstances, the bacteria can enter the spinal fluid and brain, causing meningitis, which is an inflammation or swelling of the protective membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord.
Many people carry the bacteria in their upper respiratory system without becoming ill. Streptococcus pneumoniae is spread from person to person by direct contact with respiratory droplets (such as coughing and sneezing), saliva and/or mucus from an infected person.
The signs and symptoms of Streptococcus pneumoniae will depend on the part of the body that is infected. It usually takes from one to three days from the time you are exposed to an infected person until you develop symptoms. Symptoms generally include an abrupt onset of fever and chills and may include cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, stiff neck, confusion and disorientation, sensitivity to light, joint pain, ear pain, sleeplessness and irritability.
The most effective way to prevent infection is to wash your hands thoroughly and often. If soap and water aren’t available, clean hands with hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol). Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth. If you need to touch your face, make sure your hands are clean. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing. Try to avoid close contact, such as kissing, hugging or sharing eating utensils or cups, with people who are sick.
If you develop any of these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider. Students can also contact IU Campus Health at 317-274-8784, on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or call the After Hours Pager, 317-312-6824.
For more information, please see CDC’s question and answer section on viral meningitis: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/diseases/pneumococcal-disease-streptococcus-pneumoniae.
As a precaution, Campus Facility Services will be conducting additional cleaning and disinfection of touchable surfaces of the 3rd floor, restrooms, and room XXX over the weekend.