Updated: Sunday, Feb. 8, 12:45 p.m.
The condition of the Yale College student currently being treated at Yale-New Haven Hospital for suspected bacterial meningitis is improving, according to Calhoun College Master Julia Adams.
“The parents have said they see improvement,” Adams said in an email to the News Saturday afternoon.
A suitemate said that the student is still in the intensive care unit of the hospital.
On Thursday evening, a student was taken to Yale Health by suitemates after a headache and flu-like symptoms became severe and the student began vomiting. At Yale Health, clinicians ruled out influenza.
Because the student’s symptoms were consistent with meningitis, they were then sent to YNHH. At 2:35 p.m. Friday afternoon, Director of Yale Health Paul Genecin informed the Yale community about the probable case in a University-wide email. That night, Genecin sent a second email providing information about how to prevent contagion and identify symptoms that may be concerning. The email also included information about the antibiotic clinic stationed at Yale Health.
On Sunday, Genecin sent a formal update to the Yale Community, informing them that the student with probable meningitis has shown signs of improvement over the last 48 hours.
Yale Health, administrators and the local and state public health departments are still continuing their search for people that have been in close contact with the student.
The antibiotic clinic will remain open on Sunday until 6:00 p.m., to provide such students with 500-milligram doses of Ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic. Beyond that, Genecin reminded students that the acute care department at Yale Health is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Genecin also reminded students that an FAQ page informing students about meningitis is accessible from the university’s emergency management website. He stressed that while the disease is very serious, transmission rates are low, and the University does not see any cause to cancel activities on campus.
“You should feel confident gathering with friends and colleagues in classrooms, dining halls, the library, the gym, or anyplace else on campus,” Genecin said.
In addition to Adams, one of the patient’s suitemates confirmed that the patient’s condition is improving. The suitemate said their suite has not been given any additional information about how the patient is doing.
As of early Saturday evening, there was no confirmation that the student’s illness had been verified as meningitis.
Meningitis is typically diagnosed by drawing blood from a patient’s vein and seeing if it grows bacteria. However, patients are often given a lumbar puncture, which involves the insertion of a long, thin needle into the spinal cord to collect a sample of spinal fluid, to confirm a diagnosis. While the patient at Yale Health has had a blood test, Genecin was unable to disclose whether or not that patient has had a lumbar puncture due to confidentiality laws.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it takes between 24 and 72 hours for the results of diagnostic testing for meningitis to produce a result. In an interview with the News, Genecin said the student’s symptoms are strongly indicative of bacterial meningitis, so precautions are being taken in line with the suspected diagnosis.
Genecin also emphasized that all students should engage in preventative health measures, such as handwashing, to lower the risk of contagion.
The patient’s suite had been cleaned professionally on Friday, Genecin confirmed.
Genecin recommended that those who have had contact with the patient take Ciprofloxacin, the antibiotic, as soon as possible. After taking the drug in front of the nurse or clinician, students are given a paper receipt to serve as proof that they have taken the drug until Yale Health is able to input these details into patients’ records.
Yale Health’s website has since been updated to alert visitors that there is a case of “probable bacterial meningitis” on Yale’s campus. The page also outlines symptoms, methods to control contagion in addition to the ways meningitis is and is not spread.
Genecin did not rule out the potential for an outbreak, noting that one meningitis case is typically accompanied by others.
“These things normally come in clusters,” Genecin said.