As I sat at my Aunt’s house and watched as she checked her email, she came across a message saying that a FAMU (Florida A&M University) student, Courtney Simms, had died. The email mentioned that this beautiful young lady was a former Fashion Fair spokesperson, a student in the School of Journalism & Graphic Communications (that was my school), a member of Images Modeling Troupe (I modeled with them), among many other activities on campus. Although, I never had the opportunity to meet this young lady, I instantly felt a connection with her. We scrolled to the bottom of the email to find out what the cause of her death was and we learned she had died of meningitis.

Meningitis is one of those random things you rarely hear about, except for an occasion college student having it. Most people, myself included, don’t know much about the virus, like what causes it and what the symptoms are. I decided I would do some research to educate myself and others on what it is, the symptoms, and what we can do to prevent it.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. People sometimes refer to it as spinal meningitis. Meningitis is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection. There are several types including: bacterial, spinal, and viral.

The signs and symptoms of meningitis are: High fever, headache, and stiff neck are common symptoms of meningitis in anyone over the age of 2 years. These symptoms can develop over several hours, or they may take 1 to 2 days. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, discomfort looking into bright lights, confusion, and sleepiness. In newborns and small infants, the classic symptoms of fever, headache, and neck stiffness may be absent or difficult to detect. Infants with meningitis may appear slow or inactive, have vomiting, be irritable, or be feeding poorly. As the disease progresses, patients of any age may have seizures.

Prevention: Fortunately, there is a vaccine and it is recommended for children ages 11-18 years old. Since college freshmen living in dormitories are at increased risk for meningitis it is recommended they should be vaccinated before college, if they have not previously been vaccinated.

Bacterial meningitis can be treated with antibiotics. It is important, however, that treatment be started early in the course of the disease.

For more specific information, click here to visit the CDC’s FAQs on Meningitis.