As Michigan State's fall semester gets underway, about 17,000 students have unloaded their belongings into one of the 24 residence halls on campus. And many are prepared with everything a student might need, from computers to fans to clothes and hopefully a meningitis vaccination.
"It can cause death, deformity, really bad problems if it's not caught and treated within the first few hours."
Kathi Braunlich of MSU's Olin Health Center says bacteria meningitis is an illness primarily passed through saliva. It can cause an inflammation of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord.
"Part of the reason it's an issue for college students is the close surroundings they live in, many people in a small place. The fact that they tend to not get enough sleep and don't eat real properly or get their exercise weakens their immune system."
While it's a concern for the university, the meningitis vaccination is not required.
"There's the cost element involved. There's also the fact that it should be the decision of the parent and student."
But the shot is highly recommended. And 60 percent of MSU's 45,000 students have already been immunized against the illness which often produces symptoms like a fever, neck stiffness, and a purple rash.
"We haven't seen any lately. We hope that part of that is due to the immunization recommendation."
The meningitis vaccination is available at MSU's Olin Health Center. No appointment is necessary. For more information call (517)353-9763.