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Duke meningitis victim expected to recover fully

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The Duke freshman who contracted meningitis while sleeping out at the university's Krzyzewskiville tent city is expected to recover fully.

Bill Purdy, who directs Duke's student health service, said this morning the female student is in the hospital and doing fine. He said Duke officials have tracked down a dozen more of her roommates and tentmates, the people with whom she has been in close contact with recently. They've all received antibiotics as a precaution.

"We don't expect to have any more cases, but we'll be watching very closely," he said. 

Purdy said the student was one of 12 sharing a tent for the last six weeks in anticipation of tonight's big game with UNC. Meningitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord and brain, is passed through very close contact, so the other students sharing the tent were of particular interest to campus health officails, Purdy said.

"We don't have to treat the next tent, or the tent two over, or someone in a class with her, or who had coffee with her," Purdy said.

About 70 percent of this year's Duke freshman class had received the meningitis vaccine prior to coming to college, Purdy said. The student in question did not, according to her medical records, Purdy said. The vaccine lowers the meningitis risk considerably but does not completely protect you because it doesn't guard against all strains.

Meningitis is a constant threat on college campuses because it can spread relatively easily in dormitories and other places where people live in close proximity.

Krzyzewskiville, a sprawling community of tents, made this a somewhat tricky and unusual public health situation, Purdy conceded.

"Germs can certainly spread in tents very easily," he said. "It's close quarters and certainly not the best hygiene."

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A Total Shock

An outbreak of meningitis from an overnight stay in Krzyzewskiville is something I never expected. AIDS or Herpes...yes, meningitis....no !

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About the blogger

Eric Ferreri covers higher education and general news.
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