HOT DOCUMENT: Spinal Meningitis Got Me Down


Sent: Sunday, September 09, 2007 2:33 PM
Subject: Public Health Notice for University Community

September 9, 2007

We regret to inform you that one of our students, Anne Ryan (C ’10), was hospitalized on Saturday with a critical illness and passed away early this morning. The University Chaplain and other Penn administrators were with the family and close friends last night and our collective thoughts and prayers are with them at this time.

We are sending this e-mail as general public health notice to all members of the University community as Anne is now confirmed to have contracted meningococcal meningitis. Meningococcal meningitis is a serious disease that affects children and young adults. Meningococcal bacteria are spread only through close, prolonged contact with a person who is infected or who is a carrier. Close and/or intimate contact with an infected individual does call for preventative measures. People who have had intimate or close direct exposure to a person with meningococcal meningitis should receive prophylactic medication. The Student Health Service has already notified those students whom we understand had close contact with Anne, including her off campus roommates, and arranged for prophylactic treatment.

Casual contact (eating in the same dining hall, attending classes together) does not pose a risk and most infectious disease experts do not recommend treatment for people with casual or random exposure. The bacteria are not transmitted by food handlers or through food. Meningococcal bacteria usually cannot live outside the body for more than a few minutes; people cannot be infected by being in a room where an infected individual has been.

The Student Health Service, in consultation with the infectious disease physicians in our hospital, recommends antibiotic prophylaxis only for those individuals who had close or intimate contact with the student. We do not believe there is any medical benefit to prophylaxis for those individuals who have had casual or random contact. However, we will be happy to discuss any questions with anyone who is concerned about possible exposure.

Please see for additional information about meningococcal disease. The University is holding an information session today at 3:00pm at Counseling and Psychological Services to answer any additional questions. CAPS is located at 133 South 36th Street, 2nd floor.

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