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Health Advisory — Confirmed Case of Bacterial Meningitis


Posted 05/03/2014
Submitted by
Category: Campus Announcements, Student Announcements

The following email was sent to all students, faculty, and staff on Saturday evening (May 3) by Vice President for Student Affairs Lee Peters.

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

I wrote to you yesterday regarding the untimely death of Patrick Chittenden, a senior Hartt School student who lived off campus.  Today I was informed by the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health that the cause of death was bacterial meningitis.  This is a communicable disease, treatable with antibiotics, that is spread by saliva and mucus through coughing, sneezing, or during close contact activities such as kissing, sharing eating utensils, toothbrushes, or cigarettes. The State of Connecticut Department of Public Health notes “since meningococcal bacteria cannot live for more than a few minutes outside the body, the disease is not spread as easily as the common cold or influenza.”

Protection against the particular bacteria which caused Patrick's meningitis is included in the vaccines given in the United States which help to protect against developing meningitis. All University of Hartford students are required to get the meningitis vaccine before enrolling, so the likelihood is that you are already protected.  The risk for developing meningitis is greater in students who have never been vaccinated against meningitis or have been vaccinated more than five years ago, as the vaccine may lose its effectiveness over time.

These are the symptoms associated with bacterial meningitis:

  • High Fever
  • Severe headache
  • Extremely stiff neck
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Red rash
  • Sensitivity to bright lights
  • Confusion/irritability

If you have had close contact (within three feet for any length of time) with Patrick during the past three weeks and you have any of these symptoms, you should visit a local emergency room as soon as you can to determine the meaning of the symptoms. 

If you have had close contact (within three feet for any length of time) with Patrick during the past three weeks and you do not have any of these symptoms, you can visit Campus Health Services (860.768.6601) tomorrow (Sunday) between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. for a dose of antibiotic that will protect you, as well as answers to any questions you may have.

The University is working to provide information and treatment to Patrick’s off-campus roommates and people within his close circle of friends, and we are working closely with the  State Department of Public Health and the West Hartford Department of  Public Health to ensure the health and well-being of our University community. Those interested in learning more about bacterial meningitis may read the attached State Department of Public Health fact sheet or visit the Centers for Disease Control website.

On behalf of the University, I again want to offer our deepest condolences to Patrick’s family and friends.

Sincerely,

Dr. J. Lee Peters
Vice President for Student Affairs
University of Hartford