Meningitis: Is the Silent Killer Your New Roommate? August 11, 2014 By Cait Hartwyk Leave a Comment When preparing for college, you have a lot of choices to make. You get to pick your classes, your major, your dorm, and even the brand new, extra-long, turquoise geometric print sheets that will adorn your twin bed for an entire year! Also, finding a compatible roommate to live with in notoriously tight quarters may be one of the most important factors in a healthy college experience. When it comes to picking your roommate, and when you may think you have (finally!) found the perfect match, pause for a moment. Have you considered whether “the silent killer” is your new roommate? It may seem like every possible preparation has been taken for your big move into the dorms, but have you prepared your health? There could be a silent killer lurking, and the name of this silent killer is meningococcal disease, also known as meningitis. This potentially fatal disease thrives in college dormitories as it’s most commonly found in teens. Meningitis is a dangerous inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord and may be caused by a variety of pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, environmental toxins, and reactions to medications. The disease can be difficult to recognize, especially in its early stages, since the symptoms are similar to those of more common viral illnesses. But, unlike more common illnesses, when meningitis strikes, it can cause death or disability within just one day. The disease is contagious and can be spread through the transmission of air droplets, kissing, sharing of items, living in close quarters, or eating from utensils that may have been infected. Luckily, most forms of the disease can be prevented with a vaccination. Given all the reports of meningitis outbreaks on college campuses, many state schools are now requiring students to receive this vaccination before attending the university. Proper preparations will help smooth the transition from home and help ensure a successful start to your freshman year. Preparing your health is the most important preparation you can make. Getting the meningitis vaccination is vital in order to protect your health and that of others around you. Don’t forget to receive your meningitis vaccination before heading back to school!