|Vol. 19, No. 4||Sept. 23, 1999|
A 44-year-old, female custodian at the University of Delaware is in intensive care at Christiana Care, being treated for meningococcemia, a serious blood-stream infection with the same bacteria that causes meningococcal meningitis.
The custodian, who works in the Morris Library, came to work on Tuesday, Sept. 21, felt ill and spent most of the morning in an employee restroom (Room 109) on the first floor of the library. When she didn't feel better, a coworker called UD's Office of Public Safety, and she was transported to the hospital by the University of Delaware Emergency Care Unit (UDECU).
While the risk of the infection spreading to others is extremely low, because of the potentially serious nature of the disease, those persons who were in close or intimate contact with her on Tuesday are urged to contact their family physician. Students who think they may have come in close or intimate contact with her are asked to contact the University's Student Health Service.
The student ambulance drivers and other custodians who work with the patient have been treated with antibiotics. In addition, a meeting was held with library employees, and antibiotics were dispensed by the Student Health Service to any employees who felt they were at risk.
The University is in close contact with the Delaware Department of Public Health and the infectious disease specialists at Christiana Care.
Meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. The disease strikes about 2,600 Americans each year, leading to death in approximately 13 percent of the cases, which translates to more than 300 deaths annually. In 1996, there was one case of meningococcal pneumonia in a UD student, who was treated in a timely manner and recovered.
More information on meningococcal disease is available on the UD Health Service's World Wide Web site at <http://www. udel.edu/shs/shs_main.html>.