100, 150 students could need preventative meningitis pill, public health officials say

FRESNO, Calif. - It's a small city.

23,000 people on the Fresno State campus.

Now, around 72 people are on a list to take a preventative one-pill antibiotic, after just one student was diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis.

"I mean, it's pretty crazy," freshman Raman Gill said. 

"There's a way to contain something like that," senior Melissa Thies said. "Unless it spreads to other students, my worry-factor is going to be pretty low."

The student has been hospitalized and is recovering, according to health department officials.

Those officials also say, that student doesn't live in the dorms, where a disease like meningitis could easily spread among young residents.

"We always see, a higher, a little bit of a higher rate of meningococcal disease, because they tend to share things," Fresno County Department of Public Health Assistant Director David Luchini said.

The department's now working with Fresno State to identify students who may have been exposed.

"Sharing drinks, if there's smoking involved, sharing a cigarette or vaping machine, sharing eating utensils," Luchini said. 

Luchini also says, this type of meningitis is not airborne, but, one in ten people can be carriers.

"So we're not sure why some people who carry it don't get sick, and then some people who get exposed to it, get sick," Luchini said.

Now, officials want students to watch for fever, headaches and stiff necks.

All possible signs of this disease.

"In rare instances, it can be fatal, and it can be very serious," Luchini said. "And so, that's why the Health Department and Fresno State take this serious, to make sure we identify the close contacts."

Reporting in Fresno, Megan Rupe. 

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