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Important Health Notices/Announcements

Important Announcement for Siena Community:

April 23, 2014

Dear Staff/Students:

An individual of the Siena College community has been confirmed to have meningococcal meningitis, but is expected to make a full recovery.

In cooperation with the patient’s health care providers and the New York State Department of Health, Albany County Department of Health has determined that this appears to be an isolated case and that there is no increased risk to the health and safety of the students and staff of Siena College. All individuals who had close contact with the patient have been identified and, as a precaution, treated with preventive antibiotics. While the investigation is ongoing, Siena College and the Departments of Health believe it is important that members of the community have accurate information about the disease and steps that can take to help protect themselves.

Meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial infection of the meninges (a thin lining covering the brain and spinal cord). The germ that causes the disease, Neisseria meningitidis, is transmitted by direct contact with nasal and throat discharges from an infected person. Only people who have been in close contact (e.g., household members, intimate contacts, sharing beverages and eating utensils) are potentially at risk. Casual contact, as might occur in a classroom or office setting, is usually not significant enough to cause concern. While the disease is rare and can be treated with antibiotics, it can be fatal or cause serious health complications if untreated.
The Departments of Health and Siena College Heath Services are encouraging members of the campus community to pay increased attention to personal hygienic practices in light of this confirmed case.
Helpful precautions include:
Always coughing into a sleeve or tissue, washing hands frequently, and using hand sanitizer often.
Not sharing drinking glasses, cigarettes, other smoking material, eating utensils, or drinking from a common source, such as a punch bowl.
Members of the Siena community should be aware of the symptoms of meningococcal meningitis and meningococcal septicemia (blood stream infection) since early recognition and quick medical attention are extremely important. The symptoms of meningococcal disease may include: sudden onset of high fever, headache, vomiting, stiff neck, rash, photophobia (abnormal intolerance to light), or altered mental status/confusion. Individuals who believe they have symptoms suggestive of the disease should contact their physician or Student Health Services immediately.

There is a vaccine against meningococcal disease, which is required of residential students and is available to others. However, available vaccines do not cover all serogroups (“strains”) of bacteria, as was the situation with this case. And, like with any vaccine, meningococcal vaccines are not 100 percent effective. This means that even if you have been vaccinated, there is still a chance you can develop a meningococcal infection.

Additional information can be found on the New York State Department of Health’s meningococcal disease fact sheet, which is available online at:

If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact Siena College Health Services at 518 783-2554.