COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WJZ) — The numbers are growing. University of Maryland officials confirm nearly two dozen cases of viral meningitis on the College Park campus.

Tracey Leong explains what the school is now telling students.

There are now 20 confirmed or suspected cases of viral meningitis at the University of Maryland. Health officials are now urging students to practice good hygiene to slow down the spread.

In less than two weeks, at least 20 students contracted viral meningitis–a number expected to grow.

“We’ve seen cases in a variety of different locations. I would say off campus residences, off campus houses,” said Dr. David McBride, director of the University of Maryland Health Center.

Dr. McBride wants students to know this is viral–not bacterial–meningitis, which is less dangerous.

Symptoms for viral meningitis are severe headaches, fever, nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, neck stiffness and dehydration.

“Infections are transmitted in close contact, so things like kissing, sharing glasses, sharing utensils, sharing restrooms,” Dr. McBride said.

Washing hands frequently, especially after using the restroom, is recommended since the virus can spread through mucus, saliva and stool.

Some students are not shocked it hit their campus.

“Just given the undergraduate culture of drinking after each other and playing beer pong and things like that. Not too surprised,” said Laura Anderson, UMd. student.

“Kind of in like a bubble. The campus has a lot of students in a dense area. Wouldn’t surprise me how it spread,” UMd. student Alexander Gottlieb said.

Health officials say there’s no cause for alarm. Students have typically been recovering quickly without suffering severe symptoms.

“Would encourage students to be mindful of hygiene, but to continue the things that they would normally do on a daily basis,” McBride said.

Symptoms for viral meningitis typically last about ten days. While there’s no cure, the best treatment is rest and plenty of fluids.

Viral meningitis is not as serious as bacterial meningitis. The viral form is typically not deadly, especially for those in good health.

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