Campus Meningitis Outbreaks Puts Heat on Campus Health Centers

College campuses in America take pains to ensure that their students maintain their health so they can continue to attend classes and learn. Aggressive viruses, bacterial infections and other types of dangerous diseases are a major concern of health centers on campuses across the country. Even in the relatively safe world of the college campus, sometimes highly dangerous disease outbreaks occur. Student health centers must ensure that their coding and billing practices keep pace with recent developments in disease treatments.

The bacterial infection meningitis is one disease that keeps student health centers on their toes. Although it only affects a very small portion of college populations, this infection of the membranes of both the spinal cord and the brain can cause death within a day of diagnosis if the disease has advanced enough. Common symptoms include fevers, chills, changes in mental state, stiff neck or sensitivity to light. Aggressive treatment is usually required to prevent long-lasting health effects from bacterial meningitis, such as brain damage or hearing loss.

In May 2012, a Cornell University freshman died from a bacterial meningitis infection just after completing her freshman year at the university’s Dyson Business School. The 19-year-old was afflicted with a very dangerous version of the disease, meningococcal meningitis. Even where early, aggressive treatment is pursued, this form of the disease comes with a fatality rate of around 15 percent.

Another recent meningitis outbreak affecting college students was reported by KVAL News from Eugene, Oregon. Early in May 2012, a 21-year-old University of Oregon student also died after a quick bout with bacterial meningitis. This tragedy prompted public health officials from Lane County to recommend meningitis vaccinations for children aged 11 to 18.

KVAL News reported expert advice from Dr. Sandra Miller, an Oregon Medical Group pediatrician, who stated that meningitis cannot be transmitted through casual contact but could be passed along after several hours of contact with an infected person. “And at a greater risk are young adults that are healthy. […] Often they’re in the military, in college or live in dormitories – somewhere where they are exposed to a lot of people on a regular basis.”

Student health centers at colleges and universities across America are busy offering vaccinations and treatments for meningitis and other contagious diseases. For instance, the Georgetown University Student Health Center offers meningitis vaccinations to students; the university actually requires them for all incoming students as of 2008. The health center at Georgetown also provides students with vaccinations for other high-risk diseases, such as staph infection, human papilloma virus and tuberculosis.

Effective coding and billing practices are a large part of providing effective health services for students. Although most bills are sent to a school’s insurance provider and not the student, the students still benefit from an efficient system of ordering supplies and paying health care providers for vaccinations and equipment. Especially where aggressive diseases like meningitis are at issue, quick service delivery is tremendously important for proper health care.

Keeping students safe from violent diseases requires effective oversight of campus health concerns. Although not every outbreak can be prevented, efficient delivery of health services can help keep students alive when facing aggressive bacterial infections, or worse.

About the Author

Drew Hendricks
Drew Hendricks is the Lead Editor for Z6 Mag and also a contributor to a variety of other publications.

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