Fort Hays State University > About FHSU > Division of Student Affairs > Student Health Center > Meningitis Policy
Meningitis is a disease caused by the inflammation of the
protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord known as
the meninges. The inflammation is usually caused by an infection of
the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis may
develop in response to a number of causes, usually bacteria or
viruses, but meningitis can also be caused by physical injury,
cancer or certain drugs.
This disease, while not common, can have potentially rapidly fatal
outcomes. College students are at increased risk for this disease
(1 out of 20,000, rather than 1 out of 100,000 for the population
at large) because of living in group housing. Some studies have
shown an increased risk of infection with smoking, increased
alcohol consumption and bar patronage.
Early symptoms associated with these diseases include fever, severe
headache, stiff neck, rash, nausea, vomiting and lethargy and often
resemble the flu. Because the disease progresses rapidly, often in
as little as 12 hours, students are urged to seek medical care
immediately, especially if you experience two or more symptoms at
the same time. Of those who contract the infection and are treated,
10-15% will die and 11% to 19% will be left with a significant
infection such as mental retardation, limb loss or hearing
A safe vaccine is available to you which may prevent up to 85% of
the known stereotypes of meningitis. Protection is expected to be
long lasting, but the exact duration of protection is not yet
known. Side effects of the vaccine are usually mild and consist of
redness and swelling at the injection site and/or muscle
If you live in University Housing or Greek Housing, Fort Hays State
University requires that you get the meningitis vaccination or sign
a waiver indicating that you are knowledgeable of the risks of
bacterial meningitis and your decision to not be vaccinated. This
requirement must be met prior to being allowed to move into campus
housing. All students who have been vaccinated must provide
documentation of immunization.
If you don't live in University or Greek Housing we still strongly
recommended that you become informed about meningitis and consider
vaccination to reduce your risk of this very serious illness. You
may provide proof of vaccination from your primary care provider or
receive the vaccination at the Student Health Center.
You will not be allowed to move into campus housing until
For additional information about this serious illness, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Meningitis disease information page and Meningococcal Vaccines information page (pdf).
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