Julia Henry

A female freshman in Silliman College was admitted to Yale-New Haven Hospital Sunday night with a probable case of bacterial meningitis.

Although bacterial meningitis is a serious, sometimes fatal infection of the brain and spinal cord, the risk of transmission is low and only people in prolonged, close contact with infected individuals are at risk of contracting it, Director of Yale Health Paul Genecin wrote in a community-wide email about the infection Monday. Genecin said the meningitis case was not confirmed, and that it could take five days or more before the patient’s status is known for certain. In an email to students in the college, Silliman Master Nicholas Christakis wrote that the student’s suitemates and others who had been in close contact with her had been treated with antibiotics, as per public health protocols. The diagnosed student declined to comment for this article.

“The student is doing well clinically and is in the hospital being properly treated,” Christakis wrote, adding that her parents had been contacted. “We wish the affected student a speedy recovery and rapid return to our college.”

Genecin added that over 20 individuals who had been in close contact with the diagnosed student have been given a single dose of the antibiotic ciprofloxacin, the preventative treatment for bacterial meningitis. The University continues to work with local and state departments of health to identify people who had close, extended contact with the student in question, in order to offer them preventative treatment as well. But as of Monday night, one of the student’s suitemates said she had not taken any antibiotics, though she felt completely healthy.

The suitemate added that neither Christakis nor Silliman College Dean Jessie Hill had contacted her personally about the probable meningitis case as of around 7 p.m. on Monday night.

Several freshmen who live in Silliman near the hospitalized student said they were not worried about the case and trust that Yale Health will successfully prevent the spread of the disease.

Christakis, who is also a physician and researcher in biological science, said in his email to the Silliman community that he had received advice from public health professionals at Yale and in New Haven about how to handle a potential infection. Because potential cases of meningitis must be reported to public health officials if detected, Yale Health has reported the case to both city and state public health authorities, and it is being monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Genecin said.

In his email to the Silliman community, Christakis gave students personal hygiene advice, as well as information about the symptoms of meningitis, which includes fever, a stiff neck and a skin rash.

This case comes roughly a year after a confirmed case of meningitis on campus last February. After that infection, Yale Health made meningitis vaccinations available to the entire University community.

Genecin said that anyone who has had close contact with the student in question should contact Yale Health for preventative treatment.

Yale Health has set up a telephone hotline, staffed by health professionals, for those seeking more information about this case. The hotline number is 866-924-9253.