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News Release

For immediate use

Oct. 28, 2004 -- No. 529


UNC-Chapel Hill Student Hospitalized With Bacterial Meningitis;
Public Health Officials Work to Find His Contacts

HILLSBOROUGH – Officials with the Orange County Health Department are working with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Wake County Health Department and N.C. State University to contact people who may have had contact with an 18-year-old UNC-Chapel Hill freshman who has been diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis, which is a form of bacterial meningitis.

Jonathan Parker Davis was admitted Wednesday (Oct. 27), to the UNC Hospitals. His bacterial meningitis was confirmed by lab test this afternoon (Oct. 28). Because this bacterial infection can be contagious to people who have had close contact with the infected student, public health officials chose to release the patient’s name.

"We want to contact anyone who had close contact with Jonathan Parker Davis during the past two weeks, even if they have previously received the meningitis vaccine," said Orange County Health Director Rosemary Summers. "Because this student was an outgoing college freshman, he has visited a number of places during the past couple of weeks including N.C. State, where he may have come in close contact with others."

Anyone who attended a late-night party Oct. 22 at 611 Chamberlain Rd. in Raleigh, or was with Davis at Top of the Hill Restaurant in Chapel Hill on Tuesday (Oct. 26) evening should pursue treatment.

Summers said health officials aren’t concerned about people who may have had casual contact with the student but are working to identify people who may have had close contact with him.

Close contact means people who shared a household with the student or had direct contact with oral secretions. Examples of close contact include: kissing, sharing a drink, sharing food from the same plate, sharing a cigarette, or being coughed or sneezed upon.

"We are working with our partners at the Wake County Health Department and both universities to find anyone who may have been in close contact at any of these locations," Summers said. "And, again, if you have had close contact with Jonathan Parker Davis in the past two weeks -- even if previously vaccinated against meningitis – please contact UNC Student Health Service at 919-966-6573 or N.C. State Student Health Services at 919-515-2563." Information can also be found at the Student Health Service website at http://studenthealth.unc.edu.

Davis is a resident of Granville Towers. His close contacts there have already been notified and are receiving antibiotics from UNC Student Health Service (SHS) nurses to prevent infection.

Exposed individuals who have had the meningococcal vaccine should still get preventive treatment because the vaccine does not cover all strains of bacteria that cause meningitis.

Davis’ parents expressed their appreciation for the excellent care that Jonathan is receiving from the UNC Hospitals and note that he was vaccinated against meningitis in April. They ask that Davis’ friends hold their calls and visits until he has recovered.

Meningitis is an infection of the fluid of a person's spinal cord and the fluid that surrounds the brain. People sometimes refer to it as spinal meningitis. Meningitis is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Viral meningitis is generally less severe and resolves without specific treatment, while bacterial meningitis can be quite severe and may result in brain damage, hearing loss, or learning disability.

High fever, headache and stiff neck are common symptoms of meningitis in anyone over the age of two years. These symptoms can develop over several hours, or they may take one to two days. Other symptoms may include a reddish or purple-red rash, nausea, vomiting, discomfort looking into bright lights, confusion and sleepiness. As the disease progresses, patients of any age may have seizures.

Early diagnosis and treatment are very important. If symptoms occur -- even if an individual has been previously vaccinated – one should see a doctor immediately. Bacterial meningitis can be treated with a number of effective antibiotics. It is important, however, that treatment be started early in the course of the disease.

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Orange County Health Department contact: Donna King, 919-245-2449 (office) or 919-216 6394 (pager)
UNC News Services contact: Lisa Katz, 919-962-2093 (office) or 919-638-0474 (cell)
UNC Hospitals contact: Stephanie Crayton, 919-966-2860 (office) or 919-216-1312 (pager)