Five Cal Poly students diagnosed with viral meningitis

Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo.
Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Five Cal Poly students living off campus have been diagnosed with viral meningitis since late October and are receiving medical care, including hospitalizing four of them.

On Friday, the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department issued a news release, saying, “The Public Health Department, in cooperation with the Cal Poly Health Center, is carefully monitoring a number of cases of viral meningitis in students associated with the University.”

In addition to the five diagnosed cases, “other cases of suspected viral meningitis have also been seen at the campus health center,” the release said.

Cal Poly also released a letter to the campus community on Friday, notifying people to watch for symptoms and seek treatment.

County Health officials said viral meningitis is not as dangerous as bacterial meningitis and cannot be treated with antibiotics. There is no vaccine against viral meningitis, though they do exist for bacterial meningitis, health officials said. No cases of bacterial meningitis have been reported or suspected.

“In either type, symptoms can develop very quickly,” Cal Poly medical director Karen Hord Sandquist said. “Early recognition and rapid transport to the hospital is essential for diagnosis and successful treatment.”

Symptoms of viral meningitis include severe headaches, fever, nausea, vomiting, stick neck, light sensitivity and dehydration. Sore throats also have been reported in the diagnosed cases. Viral meningitis cases are treated with pain management, rest and fluids, Sandquist said, and those who contract it typically recover within one to two weeks without any long-term problems.

To prevent the spread of viral meningitis, people should wash their hands frequently, avoid touching their face with unwashed hands, stay home when feeling ills, avoiding hugging or kissing someone who’s sick, and sharing cups and utensils.

Bacterial meningitis is a medical emergency that can be life-threatening. It can be transmitted through intimate contact — including kissing — or sharing glasses, cups, silverware, and toothbrushes with another person.

More information

For more information about meningitis, go to www.cdc.gov/meningitis/viral.html.