Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

In an effort to be proactive and keep you informed of health developments on other campuses in our region, I am writing to update you on a case of type B bacterial meningitis at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Sadly, a student at Drexel who contracted the rare strain of meningitis passed away on March 10. At this time, no further cases related to this incident have been identified, and there's no indication any of our students at Bucknell had physical contact with the victim.

What is Meningitis?

Meningitis is an infection that affects the nervous system. It can be caused by bacteria or viruses.

What are the symptoms of Meningitis?

The early symptoms of meningitis are similar to other common illnesses and include:

  • Fever, headaches, body aches and/or fatigue
  • Stiff neck
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Sensitivity to light

How contagious is Meningitis?

Many people carry the bacteria in their throats without getting the meningococcal disease. Meningitis bacteria are less infectious than viruses that cause the flu. It cannot survive outside of the body for long periods of time. It is contagious for 10 days prior to symptoms developing up to one day after starting antibiotics.

What can I do to protect myself?

You cannot get meningitis without direct and personal contact with an infected person, so avoid activities such as kissing or sharing a drink or toothbrush with someone who is sick.
Avoid sharing utensils, bottles, cigarettes or anything else that goes in your mouth with other people.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Always cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoid smoking and excess alcohol.
  • Eat healthy foods and get plenty of rest.
  • Get vaccinated. Get the meningitis vaccine before coming on campus.

While the current vaccines for meningitis available in the U.S. do not protect against serotype B, they do protect against the majority of the bacteria that cause the infection.

Bucknell Student Health urges you to follow these recommendations to protect yourself and Be Well.

Dr. Catherine O'Neil
Lead Physician
Bucknell Student Health


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