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      SUNY Oswego student in hospital with suspected bacterial meningitis

      A SUNY Oswego student has been taken to the hospital with a suspected case of bacterial meningitis.

      The Oswego County and New York State health departments are investigating the possible case of the rare infection.

      According to the Oswego County Director of Public Health, an 18-year-old female freshman was taken by an ambulance to SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse early Monday morning. Jiancheng Huang says she was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit.

      Health Department Officials say the student is responding well to treatment.

      Bacterial meningitis is a rare, but serious disease that causes a bacteria infection covering the brain and spinal cord. It can be spread through the air by droplets of respiratory secretions. It can also be spread by direct contact with an infected person through coughing and sneezing, sharing food, a drinking glass or cigarettes, or by kissing.

      Meningitis symptoms include a fever, severe headache or neck ache, chills, mental confusion, stiff neck, vomiting or sensitivity to light.

      The Oswego County and New York State health departments are working to make sure anyone who had close contact with the student now in the hospital receive preventive medication so that they stay healthy. On Tuesday, officials say they believe they have been in touch with ten close contacts of the 18 year-old freshman and have given them antibiotics.

      The Health Department say only people who were in close contact with the infected student are at risk for infection.

      "The ones we're concerned with are the ones she lived with, her close friends that they hang out all the time, the ones she shared a water bottle with, shared a chapstick with," said Diane Oldenburg from the Health Department.

      The Health Department says it is important for college students to be vaccinated.

      "Immunization works and when parents send their kids to college - include this vaccine, especially kids who are going to stay in the dorm," said Huang.

      SUNY Oswego student Chelsea Kowalski said she was glad to hear that the health department believes the infection is contained but was also taking extra precautions.

      "It's really close. There's so much interaction here. in classes, you're in and out - it could be anywhere you know," said Kowalski.

      There is a vaccine that protects against several strains of meningococcal bacteria. College students are required to either get the vaccine or sign a waiver for the vaccine under the New York State Public Health Law (Section 2167).