UPDATED: Thursday, 2:53 p.m. 

An Elon University student has contracted meningitis, according to an email from Smith Jackson, vice president for Student Life. 

The Alamance County Health Department and university personnel have contacted individuals who may have come in close contact with the diagnosed student, and preventative antibiotics have been administered to those individuals.

Ginette Archinal, the medical director of Student Health Services at Elon University, wrote the original message to students. In an interview Thursday, she wanted to stress the chances of infection for students is low.

"We use the example of if you were on a plane," Archinal begins. "You would need to be sitting next to someone, in coach, who is actively sick with meningitis, or actively contagious, for at least eight hours to even be at risk of getting meningitis."

No other cases of meningitis have been reported in Alamance county. 

Preventative antibiotic treatment is only recommended for those who might have had contact with the ill student's saliva, according to the email.

Archinal says that as long as a student hasn't been personally contacted by student health services, they can stay safe from the disease by maintaining regular hygiene practices.

"Don't share lip balm, don't drink other people's drinks, don't eat off of anybody's food," she says. "If you're sick, don't share saliva with your partner. It's that simple."

Meningitis is a medical condition characterized by inflammation of the protective membranes in the brain and spinal cord. It can be spread by direct contact with the saliva of an infected individual, and symptoms may be detected within 2-10 days of exposure. Common symptoms can include a sudden high fever, rash, severe headache, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and neck stiffness.

Archinal says any individuals experiencing one or more of these symptoms should contact their physician immediately. Further questions can be directed to the Office of Student Health and Wellness at 336-278-7200.


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