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Last Thursday, a student at the Catholic University of Lille died from bacterial meningitis. In such a case, is the entire university threatened by contagion?
On Thursday, a 19-year-old student in her first year of medicine at the Catholic University of Lille died of an infection. Following a simple malaise, her condition quickly deteriorated, and the emergency services called to her home were unable to do anything to save her. Analyzes were then carried out and revealed a meningococcal infection. Beyond the devastating tragedy, does this case put the entire university in danger?
“Very low” risks of transmission
Taking charge of the situation, the Hauts-de-France Regional Health Agency rushed to publish a press release, reminding that meningitis presents low transmission risks. This risk only concerns people having had close, close and repeated contact with a patient during the last ten days (maximum duration of the incubation period).
“Sharing a drink or kissing each other, for example, does not present a risk of transmission.”
The agency also reminds that the germ does not survive in the external environment and that closing or disinfecting the premises is unnecessary.
“Students and staff can continue to attend the establishment as normal.”
The ARS emphasizes, however, that thirteen people were prescribed preventive treatment with antibiotics, people “who have been in close contact with the student in the last 10 days”.
What exactly does this mean? According to the definition, a contact subject is a person who has been directly exposed to the nasopharyngeal secretions of a case in the 10 days preceding their hospitalization. This mainly concerns people who live or are kept under the same roof as the case during its contagious period.
The risk assessment depends on:
- Proximity: distance < 1 m;
- Type of contact: face to face;
- Duration: for at least 1 hour (less if severe coughing or frequent sneezing);
- During “mouth to mouth” contact, the duration does not matter.
In terms of medical personnel, only people who have performed mouth to mouth, intubation or endotracheal suction without a mask are considered at risk.
Contact cases generally represent few people. However, the onset of illness or a sudden high fever should worry people who have had prolonged and close contact with a sick person. If such symptoms occur, you must consult the 15 quickly.