Cal Poly students are at low risk of contracting bacterial meningitis after a university administrator was diagnosed with the infection earlier this week, San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department health officer Penny Borenstein said.
The administrator worked on campus but had no direct contact with the student population, Borenstein said. Meningitis only spreads through in-person contact.
“The individual has to spread germs by way of droplets, which come from sneezing or coughing,” Borenstein said.
The department has contacted all individuals who may have been exposed to the infection, recommended preventative treatment to them, advised them on meningitis symptoms and has communicated with administration officials that Cal Poly’s student population is not at risk. The department is committed to notifying the administration if anything changes.
“At this point, we’ve done all we can do,” Borenstein said.
No other cases have been brought to the department’s attention since the original diagnosis. Borenstein said new infections would typically show up three to four days after contact, 10 days at the longest. By the end of tomorrow, 10 days will have passed for anyone who may have been exposed on campus, she said.
“I don’t anticipate any spread, given we’re at the end of the incubation period,” Borenstein said.
The public health department is unaware of where the diagnosed administrator contracted the infection, she said. As much as 1 percent of the general population carries the disease in their nasal passages, but those carriers are usually unknown.
“It tends to be a disease that just pops up sporadically,” Borenstein said.
A vaccine for this particular strain of meningitis — called Neisseria meningitidis — is available and highly recommended for all college students because they tend to live in close quarters, Borenstein said.
Cal Poly’s Health Center offers a meningococcal vaccine during nursing hours for $115.
As of yesterday, the diagnosed administrator was in stable condition. Borenstein said she was not yet updated on the patient’s current status.
She advised anyone with questions about the disease to call the health department’s general phone number, (805) 781-5500.