Bacterial Meningitis: What You Need to Know

Texas law requires incoming college students to be vaccinated against bacterial meningitis or provide an exemption request declining the vaccine. Senate Bill 1107 amends the Texas law, requiring proof of vaccination at least 10 days prior to attending class. Class registration is blocked for LSC students until compliance with the bacterial meningitis vaccination requirement is documented. Confirm your compliance status by signing into myLoneStar.

Proof of compliance is REQUIRED if any of the following apply:

  • You are enrolling in college for the first time as a credit student.
  • You are returning to college after a break in enrollment.
  • You are transferring to LSC from another college or university.
  • You are an early college, dual credit or other exceptional admissions student enrolled in classes on a Lone Star College campus.
  • You are a non-credit Career & Continuing Education student also enrolled in credit classes.

You are EXEMPT from the requirement if any of the following apply:

  • You are 22 years of age or older.
  • You are enrolled in a non-credit CTE course or program that is less than 360 contact hours and are not taking any credit classes.
  • You are enrolled in non-credit corporate training.
  • You are enrolled in 100% online or distance education courses.
  • You are a dual credit student taking courses taught at a public or private K-12 facility that is not located on a college campus.
  • You obtain a medical exemption.
  • You obtain a conscientious objection exemption.

Even if you are exempt from the bacterial meningitis vaccination, you are strongly encouraged to obtain the vaccination before registering at Lone Star College.

Refer to the bacterial meningitis vaccination compliance steps for more information.

About Bacterial Meningitis

Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection. The severity of illness and treatment differs depending on whether a virus or bacterium is the cause for infection. Bacterial meningitis can be severe and may result in brain damage, hearing loss, or learning disabilities. Antibiotics can prevent some types of bacterial meningitis from spreading and infecting other people.

Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis before the 1990s. Since the Hib vaccine is given now to children as part of their routine immunizations, the number of Hib infections and related meningitis cases has declined. Streptococcus pneumoniae and Neisseria meningitidis are now the leading causes of bacterial meningitis.

Symptoms of the Disease

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 take 1 to 2 days. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, discomfort looking into bright lights, confusion, and sleepiness. Infants with meningitis may appear slow or inactive, have vomiting, be irritable, or feeding poorly. As the disease progresses, patients of any age may have seizures.

Transmission of the Disease

Some forms of bacterial meningitis are contagious. The bacteria is mainly spread from person to person through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions. This can occur through coughing, kissing, and sneezing, yet none of the bacteria that cause meningitis are as contagious as the common cold or flu. The bacteria are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been.

Sometimes the bacteria that cause meningitis have spread to other people who have had close or prolonged contact with a patient with meningococcal meningitis or Hib. People in the same household or daycare center or anyone with direct contact with a patient's oral secretions (such as a boyfriend or girlfriend) would be considered at increased risk of getting the infection. People who qualify as close contacts of a person with meningitis caused by N. meningitides should receive antibiotics (prophylaxis) to prevent them from getting the disease. This is if there is 1 household contact younger than 48 months who has not been fully immunized against Hib or a child with a weakened immune system, then the entire household, regardless of age, should receive prophylaxis.

Reducing Your Risks of Infection

Follow good hygiene practices:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and often.
  • Clean contaminated surfaces with soap and water or a disinfecting solution.
  • Cover your cough by coughing into your upper arm or using a tissue. After using a tissue, place it in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Avoid kissing or sharing a drinking glass, eating utensil, lipstick, or other such items with sick people or with others when you are sick.
  • Receiving vaccinations as recommended.
  • Try to avoiding bites from mosquitoes and other insects that carry diseases that can infect humans.
  • If you have a rodent infestation in and around your home, take cleaning and control precautions as recommended by the CDC.

When to Return to School/Work

The CDC and Texas State Department of Health Services provide the following general guidelines to determine when one can return to work after developing meningitis:

NOTE: Individuals who have had meningitis should stay away from school and work for as long as symptoms exist. This could be for an extended period of time. It is highly recommended that an individual seek guidance from their health care professional or the local health department to determine when it is appropriate to return to work or school.

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