Preparedness | Responses | Recovery
Emergency Preparedness

Communicable Diseases - Bacterial Meningitis Protocol

Key goals related to the handling of a bacterial meningitis case:

I.   Bacterial meningitis case identified

Health Services would most probably become aware that a Skidmore student (or students) has (have) contracted bacterial meningitis in one of three ways:

Once a case has been reported, the Director of Health Services will quickly gather as many details as possible regarding the case and potential contacts that may be of concern, as prompt action is of essence in effectively treating the affected individual and any others who may have been exposed to the illness. In the event that another office or individual in the Skidmore College community first learns of a case, it is imperative that Health Services be notified immediately.

II.   Emergency Management Team

  1. The Director of Health Services will notify the Dean of Student Affairs of the situation and request that the Emergency Management Team be alerted to prepare for coordination of the College’s response.
  2. Appropriate members of the campus Emergency Management Team (Response Group) will collaborate to determine target individuals who may be at risk for meningitis as a result of contact with the index case.
  3. The Director of Health Services will collaborate with, provide on-going situational updates and serve as the primary medical/health resource to the Dean of Student Affairs and EMT.

III.   Initial Priority Actions/Decisions

A.   Health Services 

B.   Identification and treatment of possible at-risk individuals/groups

Individuals/groups who may be “at-risk” for exposure to the index case include:

**All individuals meeting the above criteria for possible exposure or are otherwise determined to be “at-risk” need to be seen by Health Services or by another licensed health care professional within 24 hours of the identification of the index case**

 C.  Reassurance of those NOT at risk

Individuals not meeting any of the criteria for possible exposure listed above do not need medical treatment, just reassurance. --Bacterial meningitis is not spread through casual contact. Examples of individuals who would "not be at risk" include:

D.   Cleaning/disinfection Procedures

For any cases of bacterial meningitis identified amongst residential students, arrangements should be made for thorough cleaning and disinfection of their residence hall room(s). All potentially contaminated materials should be removed from their room(s) and the room itself thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Housekeeping personnel responsible for the cleaning and disinfection process should utilize appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) provided by the College.  If the student was seen in Health Services, the same procedures should be followed for the examination room.

E.   Notification of “at-risk” individuals/groups

Once target individuals / groups have been identified, it will be necessary to have a specific briefing with representatives from the groups that would be responsible for contacting students who may have been exposed to the index case; for example the coach of a sports team, an RA or other Residential Life staff member, or representatives for a student club or organization. A designated member of Health Services (or of Student Affairs) will be responsible for speaking with these group representatives. They should be provided with a summary of what has occurred, what needs to be done, and the need to contact students who may be potential secondary cases. These representatives may be asked to contact individuals and direct them to report to Health Services.

F.   Communications

The Director of Communications, the Chief Technology Officer and/or representative of the Office of the President will be the primary contacts for on and off-campus communication of important information related to an incident of bacterial meningitis in the Skidmore College community. Communications developed by their offices will be used throughout the crisis to educate the community about bacterial meningitis and what steps are being taken. The Director of Communications is the college's representative designated to coordinate information to the media.

Depending on the situation, other student groups, campus departments, or faculty/staff will be briefed about the meningitis incident and related procedures. For example, a special briefing could be  held in the residence hall of the index case. Information shared would be helpful in providing correct information, alleviating rumors, and dispelling potentially needless worry.

IV.  Collaboration with Saratoga County and NYS Public Health Departments

Saratoga County and New York State Health Public Health Department staff with collaborate with Skidmore College in determining whether campus-wide/community mass meningitis immunization is indicated, and in decisions regarding other possible community-based considerations such as:  quarantine, cancellation of classes and/or community/athletic events, restriction of public/visitor access to campus, campus “closure”, etc.